Egypt's Quantum Entanglement

I'm contributing to the IHT's global opinion blog, Latitude. Here's the first piece:

CAIRO — In the famous thought experiment by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, a cat that is placed in a box, alongside a radioactive element whose decay will trigger the release of a deadly poison, is said to be at once alive and dead. According to the laws of quantum physics there is an equal chance that the radioactive element will decay and that it won’t. Thus Schrodinger posited that until the box is opened and the cat’s state observed, the animal is theoretically in a state where both possibilities co-exist.

Egypt’s seemingly endless transition appears to have entered a similarly bizarre quantum state, where things both are and are not. The deposed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was supposed to be dying, then to have been clinically dead, and then merely to be in a coma. Finally he was said to be fine, just injured from a slip in the shower. For about 24 hours, like Schrodinger’s cat, Mubarak was both dead and alive.

Read the rest here.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.