Schrödinger’s Calculation – poem by Derek Sellen


Schrödinger’s Calculation

Cats hunt by probabilities,
knowing how to maximise opportunities,
as Schrödinger did,
making death-or-life decisions,
quitting Germany,
smuggling his mistress with him.

Two wives in a house on campus?
Hypothetical couplings?
This was a state of entanglement,
that neither Oxford nor Princeton welcomed.

They’d rather have opened the door
on the neat circle of a cat, nose on paws
– asleep or rigid –
than release scandal out of its box
to prowl the quads and wake the proctor with its howl.

Erwin used his privileges to advantage;
but the ones who stayed behind,
what were their chances? In a system
where randomness was suspended,
they found themselves closed in
as probabilities narrowed,
consigned to death, not life.

Erwin Schrödinger was not himself Jewish but twice had to leave
Nazi-controlled countries because of his political views.
He is famous for the ironic thought experiment of ‘Schrödinger’s
Cat’, in which the cat is simultaneously alive and dead.

Schrödinger’s Calculation by Derek Sellen was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2018) judged by Roger Elkin

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