Sunday May 14, 2017

B.C. election results are best thought of as Schrodinger's Cat

The outcome of the B.C. election is far from decided, with as many as five ridings still in play until absentee ballots come in.

The outcome of the B.C. election is far from decided, with as many as five ridings still in play until absentee ballots come in. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press, Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Listen 2:59

British Columbians are waiting for a final vote count in Tuesday's nail-biting election. 

The B.C. Liberals seem to have hung on to power for now — but the final result could change in the weeks to come. 

Christy Clark and her Liberals had been declared elected in 43 of B.C.'s 87 ridings, compared to 41 for the NDP and three for the Green Party.

It takes 44 seats to form a majority in B.C.

Crawford Kilian

Crawford Kilian says the best way to think of the current elections results in B.C., is to borrow from quantum physics. (CBC)

But several ridings will have recounts — including Courtenay-Comox, where the NDP lead by just nine votes — and absentee ballots have not been counted.

So until the final count by Elections BC is held later in May, The Tyee's contributing editor Crawford Kilian argues it's best to think of the current results in terms of a thought experiment known as Schrodinger's Cat. 

Listen to Crawford's essay above and let us know what you think in the comments below. Here's an excerpt: 

"Erwin Schrödinger's famous thought experiment seems very applicable to B.C. politics this week. It goes like this: 

Imagine, he suggested, that there is a cat in a sealed box. A source of radiation may fire a random particle into a Geiger counter, causing a hammer to smash a vial of cyanide and kill the cat. Or it may not.

Schrödinger argued while the box is closed, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead, in a state of 'quantum superposition.'

When we open the box, reality 'collapses' into a single cat, alive or dead.

In the case of B.C. - the election box won't be opened until May 24 and the official vote count. 

Given the outcome so far - all three parties are in a similar state of superposition, simultaneously alive and dead."