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Erwin Schrödinger, creator of the famous thought experiment in which a cat in a box is simultaneously dead and alive, was born August 12, 1886 1887, in Vienna, Austria. Today, Google celebrates the quantum physicist with a Doodle showing two kitty cats in opposite states of viability.

In 1933, Schrödinger won the Nobel prize in physics for Schrödinger’s equation, which describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes with time. His theoretical research has led to many fascinating scientific breakthroughs (like quantum teleportation!)

One version of the Schrödinger’s Cat paradox, which is often used as a way to think about quantum mechanics, goes like this: A cat is in a sealed box with a flask of poison and a radioactive substance. If a single atom of the substance decays, the flask shatters and the cat dies. Because an observer has no way of knowing whether the cat has been poisoned, the animal can be thought to be both alive and dead.

Schrödinger died January 4, 1961, at the age of 73.

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