Thursday, February 12, 2009

Quantum Superposition of States

So, we'll be getting an ultrasound at some point in the near future. In the meantime, there is one very commonly-asked question, which is:

"Do you know whether it's a boy or a girl yet?"

The standard, non-geeky answer is, of course, "No." But really, that's boring. And of course, despite the fact that ultrasounds don't happen until at least week 18, L.E.O.'s genitalia have already developed. They are simply unobserved.

In terms of gender, therefore, we are dealing with a quantum superposition of states. From the standpoint of an outside observer, the baby is both a boy and a girl. Or perhaps 50% male and 50% female. Technically, from this standpoint, that means it has 1.5 X chromosomes in each cell (and 0.5 Y chromosomes). Of course, from the point of view of an inside observer, i.e. L.E.O., the wave function has already collapsed.

Yeah, yeah, quantum physics doesn't really work like that on a macroscale, I know. Still, more fun than just "No."

4 comments:

Tom Pellitieri said...

We thought you were having a Little Evil Overlord... not Schrödinger's Cat.

Or are you now planning on providing L.E.O. with a cat named Schrödinger?

Or is L.E.O.'s real name Schrödinger?? :)

Carol said...

And just to make your sciencey brains implode... Matt swears he read somewhere that college-educated women are surprisingly good at intuiting the sex of their unborn babies. So far, so good, for me. ;)

Eric said...

Tom: Maybe a stuffed cat, Jenny's allergic. :( But L.E.O. needs early lessons in quantum mechanics if s/he's to be able to deal with quantum replicators early on.

Carol: Interesting, Jenny's had absolutely no intuition that I've heard of. Hrm, I wonder what's up.

Jenny said...

Schroedinger's cat sounds like an appropriate pet for an evil overlord. Also, "stuffed cat named Schroedinger" is totally going on the baby wishlist.

Hey, I've got perfectly good intuition on the baby's sex. I'm positive it's going to be either a boy or a girl. :)