Thursday, 8 July 2010

Quantum Diabetes and Schroedinger’s Hypo


I’ve always taken a layman’s interest in physics, from cosmology all the way down to particle physics and the quantum world. Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little down about my diabetes, I can take solace from the knowledge that the many worlds theory suggests that somewhere, in another universe, there is a ‘me’ who does not have diabetes. In fact, he’s probably a world-class marathon runner and polymath, admired and adored by all who hear his name, and happily married to Kate Bush.

The other day I was testing my blood, chiefly to see what my levels were before I partook of a tasty snack, and not for any reason of feeling that my levels might be low and in need of attention. I was therefore shocked and surprised to see a figure of 2.7 mmol/l (49 mg/dl), well below the point at which my world should have been swimming before me in a jittering, blurry haze! So, I was 2.7! Therefore I should be feeling quite pronounced symptoms, right? The instant I recognised this, the symptoms immediately set in and I was scrabbling for the jelly babies!

What can I conclude from this? That there is yet another type of hypo I can add to my ever growing list of experiences: the quantum, or Schroedinger’s hypo – one which only manifests itself when it is observed! If you don’t know who Schroedinger was, he was a physicist who proposed a thought experiment in the mid-1930s in response to the Copenhagen interpretation. Basically, the experiment went like this: place a cat in a sealed container which also contains a poisonous substance and a small amount of a radioactive element. The poison will be triggered by the particle decay of an atom, which may or may not happen, and therefore may or may not kill the cat. It is only by opening the container though, that the true state of the cat can be discovered. The act of observation fixes the quantum state – prior to that the state was in quantum flux and undefinable. (the experiment can be read in greater detail here)

Thus, a hypo which only generates symptoms when the blood sugar level is observed clearly operates on the same principle! I need to refine my theories a bit, but there might be a Nobel prize in this somewhere…

We’re all subject to the laws of physics,
I don’t think you’d argue with that!
So it follows that our dear diabetes
Might behave just like Schroedinger’s cat!

For a cat that is sealed in a container
May be subject to quantum events –
It will either survive and remain quite alive,
Or poof! In a flash, heaven sent!

It’s only upon observation
That we can learn of the poor moggie’s fate,
As we lift up the lid, did it die? Yes it did!
For we just fixed the true quantum state!

Likewise, with the strange quantum hypo,
That a random blood test may produce -
From out of nowhere, the hypo is there,
For reasons bizarre and obtuse!

Then once you have glanced at the number,
All at once your defences will slip,
And reality swirls as your neurons unfurl,
And the universe loses its grip!

To restore such a quantum imbalance
Take sugar as soon as you can!
For its fine crystalline carbon structure
Is the best antidote known to Man!

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