Schrödinger’s Mouse

By | July 13, 2020

Its Thursday 9th July – I’m hosting another lockdown Zoom call for about 20 people at 5:30pm.  At 5:25pm, I bring up the Zoom App on my iMac with a couple of mouse clicks.  The call is set up on the Zoom schedule, so all that is needed now is to click the start button, but there’s still a couple of minutes to go, so I pop into the kitchen to grab a glass of water.  A minute or so later, I’m back at my desk, a quick check of the time, it’s 5:29pm, so I reach across for the mouse to click the start button, but the mouse isn’t there!!!  Where is my mouse????  Where has it gone???? WTF????

Confusion!  It was there 2 minutes ago, nobody else has been in the room, and all I did was to walk out of the room, across the hall, into the kitchen, get a glass of water and return.    What did I do?  Did I take the mouse with me and leave it in the kitchen? Would I do that?  The mouse (and keyboard) are permanent residents on my desk,  A swift return to the kitchen, no sign of the mouse anywhere – a quick check with my wife to confirm there’s no sign of the mouse on a work surface, by the sink, etc. I’m getting some very strange looks.  We both go to my desk and neither of us can see the mouse anywhere on the desk surface.  It’s a white Apple mouse that sits on my dark oak desk.  So, I’m down on my hands and knees, checking under the desk, in the rubbish bin, all around the chair, the shelves, the desk drawers and every other surface: there is no mouse: it no longer exists.

It’s now a few minutes past the scheduled start time for the Zoom meeting, and I’m getting messages!  Plan B – I start the Zoom call on my phone, and apologise for the delay, explaining that I couldn’t locate my mouse. Consensus amongst the attendees was that the cat had got it.  Thanks guys, that’s a great help.  Nevertheless, we got the call underway – Zoom works well on a phone, other than a few limitations due mainly to the size of the phone’ screen. About 20 mins or so into the call, as I’m watching/listening to one of the participants talking, I remember a question that popped up earlier that I couldn’t answer, so thought I’ll just Google that on the iMac, reached across for the mouse, brought up the browser on the iMac and clicked into Google.  Hang on!!!!  I am now using the mouse that is not there.  I just reached across and there it was, as always, sitting on the desk, to the right-hand side of the keyboard, where it has spent its entire life.  It’s now a case of keeping calm and rational, because screaming, running out of the room and shouting obscenities about poltergeists would spook the meeting attendees.

At the end of the call, it’s time for some serious thinking: what on earth has just happened?  The disappearing mouse – how can a simple object completely vanish, and then a short while late, reappear, without any human intervention?  Both my wife and I could not see the white Apple mouse before the call, in an area of about one square foot on a dark oak desk where it always sits, and yet minutes later it when I automatically reached across, without thinking what I was doing, it was right there, where it always is.

I have no explanation whatsoever of what, how and why that happened, and certainly not one I’m going to give credence to!!

The ‘missing object phenomenon’ – I even Googled it!  

  • Did I lose my marbles as well as the mouse?
  • Am I hallucinating?
  • Am I making this up?
  • Was it a marketing ploy by Apple to get me to buy another mouse?
  • Is it something to do with Quantum Theory?

Schrödinger’s cat is a famous hypothetical experiment designed to point out a flaw in the interpretation of the ability of a system to exist in multiple states at the same time.  The experiment was intended to make people ask themselves if it was logical for observation to be the trigger to confirm existence of a system in one of two realities.  I’m inclined to define my experience as an example of Schrödinger’s mouse: it was there, and it wasn’t there.  

One thought on “Schrödinger’s Mouse

  1. David Atkins

    Hi John,
    Happens to me all the time. But then I am a bit odd as you know. The curious thing is that your wife was sucked into the vortex as well. Maybe this needs further investigation. Did you hear the doorbell? That’ll be the Pavlov’s men in white coats.


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