Half-Past Time

The Cat You May Pet
In the Quantum Tea Box

We may be closer to find out whether that cat that Schrödinger imagined 76 years ago is either dead or alive. It’s now both but we won’ attempt to explain how: we need to be somewhere else.
At a Shop of Cats in Tokyo. We can’t wait to have a tea and hope one of them will accept our petting. They really know what’s their place: somewhere above you.
For now, cat-deprived New Yorkers can have a virtual playdate with a trio of them, through Bideawee. Just press some controls on your computer to move the toys, and be ready to be ignored by the resident stars.
During the few minutes that your session lasts, you may notice two things, though: if there are too many people on queue, the cats zoom out and walk away from the predictable toys.
And, if you’re not careful, the toys themselves seem at odds with the natural pacing and stalking of cats: they either move too fast or not fast enough. Anyway.
It reminds us of another Japanese fever a few years back, the virtual pet. It was hard to believe but people would grow attached to their animated pixel, which could be very demanding too.
In order to have one, the certainly lonely person would have to commit to name it, ‘feed” it and spend ‘quality time’ with it. Otherwise it’d die.
Apparently, heartbreaking multiplied faster than people could keep up with their digital pets, and someone had the humane sense of ending the whole experiment.

Even in the unlikely event that it may have seemed like a good idea for more than 5 minutes, we bet some children got traumatized for life with the whole thing.
Traumatizing is not exactly how we’d describe the German mycow.de Website, which offers you the choice of what kind of beef you’d prefer to have for dinner: Angus, Galloway, and so forth.
That doesn’t mean that you get to choose which cow will be slaughtered for you, thank goodness. You do, however, have a choice of how you want it killed, which raises the creep-o-meter several notches.
There’s a whole discussion about how taking cows to the slaughterhouse is, well, traumatic to them. But the alternative, sneaking up on them while they graze, stun them and then shoot them doesn’t sound much more appealing.
Again, that reminds us the 1990s too, when the comedian Denis Leary had a bit about the supposedly ‘ideal’ restaurant for a ‘real’ meat eater.
Servers would bring the cows straight to the dining room and the customer would get to choose which one looked more delicious. Then, the poor thing would be promptly slaughtered on the spot.

Along the same lines brings us back to Japan. Are you still hungry? Be prepared to fish your own catch, displayed in tanks at the Zauo restaurant.
As you walk in, you’re given some fishing gear and directed to the tank where your favorite sushi may be swimming. You catch it, they prepared it as you’d like it.
Not quite shooting fish on a barrel but close. Underlying it all, there’s this idea that you need more than be served, when you go out to eat; you’d also be given the choice to earn it.
We’d have serious objections about the concept, but a cat just happened to stop by and is staring at us, here at the Neko no Mise cat shop. Of course, we’ve dropped everything else.
Young people in Tokyo most likely live in buildings where there’s a no-pet rule, so they may crave for physical contact with animals.
Somehow, we’re kind of glad that this generation graduated to having the experience with the real thing, not virtual versions of pets. Plus, they don’t have to really commit to the cats.
Such need has created a demand for places like these, where you have a coffee and play with cats. No need to add that you must be a cat person, but even if you are, there’s no guarantee: cats, of course, do as they please everywhere.

Quantum mechanics theory has been around for over a century, but if you don’t quite get it, you’re in good company. Even Einstein had a hard time understanding it and it upset him a great deal.
It’s not only that seems to exist completely apart from the principles of relativity he dedicate his life to establish.
It’s because, even though it explains the laws of the atomic world, no one has been able to extrapolate it to the world you and everybody else lives.
So, in quantum theory, you may be able to be at two or more places at the same time, and in fact, you need to be in order to explain what’s going on around you.
You may also be something whenever no one is looking, and immediately turn into something else, the moment you neighbor spots you. Well, that already happens, we know.
But when Erwin Schrödinger came up with his thought experiment, in 1935, of a cat being in a box unbeknownst to everybody as to whether he’s alive or dead, physicists were getting frustrated.
They could observe, repeat and prove a set of phenomena at an atomic level, but couldn’t find a way to reproduce it, once the scale had been raised.
The colorful example of the cat was, then, an attempt to make it all more palatable for comprehension, and likely, to wake up everybody in the room.
Now a team at the University of Vienna seems to have devised an experiment that may reveal if one of the modified versions of quantum theory is correct.
To proceed beyond this point to explain what exactly they’re talking about would put us in the same condition of a fish in one of those Japanese restaurant’s tanks: about to be killed.
So instead, today being Caturday and all, we dedicate this whole post to the memory of Jack the Cat, who escaped his box at the JFK airport back in August, went missing and then found, a couple of weeks ago.
He was, however, too weak and passed away last Sunday, never making to California, to where his friend Karen Pascoe had been transferred.
The face of the yellow long-hair Norwegian forest cat graces a Facebook page dedicated to him and his sad story, and comments are still being added by sympathizers.
So, here’s hoping that wherever you are, there’s plenty of toys and sardines and playful time and loving souls to celebrate you, here’s our heartfelt homage: Rest in Peace, Jack.

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