The cat in Michael Nixon's box is not only both dead and alive simultaneously, it is also his ticket towards thousands of dollars in prize money and a new school laboratory for Kooringal High School.
Chosen from thousands of entries around the world, the 17-year-old is one of only two Australians to be listed as finalists in the international science Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
The year 12 student was tasked to create a three-minute video to explain a complicated area of science. He chose to 'recreate' Edwin Schroedinger's famous quantum physics thought experiment known as 'Schroedinger's Cat'.
Inside his handmade box, Michael explains there is "an adorable cat, a jar of kitty-killer gas, a hammer and a radioactive atom".
"There's a 50 per cent chance that the atom decays. If it does, the hammer smashes the glass and releases the poison which kills the cat," Michael said.
"Otherwise the cat lives."
But, according to the experiment, the outcome remains unknown until the box is opened. Until then, the cat is both dead and alive. So it is with atoms that are able to remain decayed and undecayed at the same time.
"When you get down to the microscopic world, at the quantum level, things happen differently to how you would expect," Michael said.
"In the macro world, that doesn't make sense because we think that what happens on the larger scale will happen on the microscopic scale too."
Of course, Michael did not really subject the cat in his experiment to the horrendous outcomes of the Schroedinger's Cat quandary.
Instead, he used it as a narrative device to explain the process of atomic superposition and quantum decoherence.
"Schroedinger's Cat was the narrative device to physically show the way this works," Michael said.
"It's also something that gets referenced a lot in popular culture, and that's not always helpful for people t understand what the experiment is."
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Having scripted, filmed and edited the three-minute demonstration on his own, Michael assures no harm came to the cat in his video.
"The cat was actually really hard to work with so even though the whole thing is about this cat, it's actually only seen in the video for about three seconds," he said.
Now that Michael has made his mark on the international science world, he faces anxious couple of weeks to find out if he will be crowned the king of junior science.
In order to contend for the top prize, his video has to receive the most positive reactions on the Breakthrough Challenge Facebook page.
To be announced the week of September 21, if Michael does take the gold in the competition, he will be given $250,000 US in prize money.
His science teacher will also be given $50,000 US and Kooringal High School will receive a $100,000 upgrade to its science lab.
"Everyone gets a payday if I win," Michael said.
"I was just [overwhelmed] to be chosen as one of 30 in the world out of literally thousands, so who knows what will happen. It would be wonderful for Kooringal High to get a new lab though."