Schrödinger’s grilled cheese sandwich

This cat is in a state of indterminacy

This cat is in a state of indeterminacy

We have all been confronted by the Grilled Cheese Indeterminacy, or as it is more commonly known, Schrödinger’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Like other natural phenomena such as rainbows, it is such an integral part of the human experience that we sometimes cease to question, though never to wonder. Of late, less preoccupied by other scientific endeavors, I have bent my not-inconsiderable intellect to more ample consideration of this issue.

1. Definition

The fundamental observation is that if you eat one grilled cheese sandwich, it is never quite enough. However, and this is the crucial issue, if you eat more than one, you will be overly full. Therefore, we can say that that the event horizon bifurcates after the first sandwich, leaving the consumer in a state of indeterminacy. At that second in time, before the decision is made to order, or nota second sandwich, the probability field collapses and both realities exist simultaneously as entropy approaches infinity asymptotically (I have a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain).

2. The axiomatic grilled cheese sandwich

A grilled cheese sandwich, by default and by popular consensus, is composed of two slices of  sliced industrial bread, butter and Amurikan cheese.  Butter is applied to the outer surfaces of the bread while the interior is loaded with exactly two slices of cheese. The resulting pap is fried on a griddle or frypan till crispiness ensues on the outside and gooey yumminess on the inside. Note that if the sandwich does not conform to this recipe, the indeterminacy may apply only inconsistently. For example, some people, and we have to accept some diversity of opinion so I will just call these people “misguided” rather than “ungodly”, feel that a grilled cheese should contain a slice of anemic tomato. Naturally, this is up to them but the belief that adding a couple of vitamins and a tad of roughage to the sandwich will improve the healthiness of the resulting product is laughable. Correspondingly, the sogginess imparted by the tomato may be such that satiation can occur with less than a single sandwich. Shocking but true.

3. Is the grilled cheese sandwich the only food for which Schrödinger’ indeterminacy applies?

That is an excellent question and I’m glad you asked. My husband, something of a cynic regarding my scientific endeavors (the rat), has suggested that both hot dogs and cheesecake are subject to a similar rule but this is clearly not true and I can prove it by using my words. Firstly, there is no slice of cheesecake served that is not sickly by the third  mouthful (± 2 mouthfuls) and as for hotdogs, it is demonstrable that they define two populations of consumers: those who can eat any number of hotdogs and those who, ravenous, give in to temptation and eat one and then, remembering what the hotdog is made of, hate themselves for the rest of the day. I’m not saying that the compulsion to eat unhealthy amounts of cheesecake and hotdogs isn’t interesting, just that it is not an example of indeterminacy.

4. Do you have to eat an entire second grilled cheese sandwich before remorse sets in?

No, often a bite or two will suffice. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

5. Are scientists exploring the quantum physics that underpin the grilled cheese indeterminacy? Will we ever have a definitive answer?

Naturally, when we think of indeterminacy we think of Schrödinger’s cat. As the cat is neither alive nor dead, so is the consumer of a single grilled cheese both unsatiated and sickened. Happily, since the discovery of the Higgs-boson particle, the Hadron super-collider has been freed up and research is now actively ongoing. It’s not clear that we will have an answer in our lifetimes, but I think that, given sufficient resources (and cats), our grandchildren will gain insights into one of great mysteries of the universe. I suspect that it has something to do with the Mayan calendar.

Today’s image is filched from here.