le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Schrodinger's cat is trendy

There seems to be quite the trend in fiction - especially? YA - to reference old Schrodinger's cat and the thought experiment it denotes. It comes up in Will Grayson, Will Grayson (because, atheistically bless his little heart, John Green is one doozie of a nerd). It comes up elsewhere, and I really thought I'd been keeping some kind of count or record, but searching this site gives me nothing. I'll try to scrape the barrel of my memory to recall.
It just popped up again, sans Schrodinger, in something I recently read (which of course I no longer recall, since I've crammed books into my brain lately like a fiend). Possibly it was Libba Bray's Beauty Queens; equally possibly, but less likely, is Holly Black's very awesome White Cat. Regardless, there was the experiment, laid out in tidy, non-jargony prose.
For awhile, Maxwell's Demon, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics kept cropping up as well. Maxwell's Demon first wandered into my life when I read The Crying of Lot 49 for the first time. That demon has since popped up from time to time in other fictional locales.

It makes me wonder about these odd, pop-science "metaphors." Neither was necessarily a popular science idea until they started cropping up in fiction of one kind or another (or internet memes). But how and when did that transition happen? And why the desire to use the scientifick metaphor?
It just reminds me, as humanities-wrought scientific metaphors always do, of Eliot's essay on "Tradition and the Individual Talent," and his weak (very weak, as some chemistry/physics majors told me) effort at scientific metaphor - and how, when we read Eliot's essay for my first-ever critical theory class way back in 1999, the professor mentioned the insecurity of theory, of literature - and the way literature and critical theory try to appropriate the language of science to disguise or legitimate themselves.
I'll need to keep better track of these references, unless some enterprising and extremely bored soul has already made a list or database online.

EDIT: Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency makes use of old Schrodinger and his imaginary cat.

EDIT: Catherynne M. Valente's amazing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making makes reference to the principles behind Schrodinger's cat [no cat, no Schrodinger, but the issue of all possibilities as actualities until one observes/knows the outcome].

No comments: