The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 8, 2014

January 8, 1942

Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942) held the Lucasian chair (Isaac Newton's old seat) at Cambridge University, and maintains his rock star status in the world of scientific discourse. He is most famous for his research into black holes, and concerning that he once said it was like "looking for a black cat in a coal cellar."

I myself, researching feline references made by this great physicist, encountered an obstacle. More than one source quotes Hawking as saying "whenever I hear a mention of that cat, I reach for my gun.” The source of this attribution regarding Schrodinger's thought experiment, the one closest to hand, is Victor Vaguine whose 2012 book, Prologue to Super Quantum Mechanics, quotes Hawking to this effect, and cites A Brief History of Time as the source. Yet I can find no place in A Brief History of Time where Hawking actually writes this

I guess Hawking must have mentioned shooting Schrodinger's cat, in another universe. That would solve my research dilemma: It happened in another universe. However for me, that another universe hypothesis is just an admission of failure, the resort of someone who does not want to give up certain assumptions, or thoroughly consider alternatives based on new empirical findings. To speculate about multiple universes as an implication of new research, is to be willing to make a mish mash of rational thought itself. And some cosmologists agree with such arguments as I outlined. Others do not, and apparently Hawking is one of those willing to put forward a multiple universe hypothesis.

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