Letourneau, J. et al
Physicists have long debated whether grad students are students or workers. Some have argued that they simultaneously meet the criteria for both, not unlike how light is both a wave and a particle (though that particular viewpoint is highly controversial). But a new study may finally put this debate to rest, revealing that grad students exist in a quantum superposition of “students” and “workers” until university administration can observe what is most convenient for the institution.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was the perfect opportunity to test our hypothesis,” said Dr. Alma Valdez, the lead author of this study. “Universities had to quickly develop new policies and place members of the community into discrete categories to determine how different groups were affected by these policies.”
“According to classical physics, we would have expected to see grad students placed in a single category, either students or workers,” explained Dr. Valdez. “Instead, it seemed the grad students somehow remained in both “student” and “worker” quantum states prior to each new policy update email.”
Struggling to wrap your mind around this? Let’s take a look at how this quantum phenomenon plays out. At the prestigious Nobleton University, the first email sent out about the pandemic stated that both undergraduate and graduate students needed to leave campus housing immediately. Sounds pretty clear that they are being treated as students.
“But this is where things get interesting,” says Dr. Valdez.
“As soon as there is a new decision to be made, graduate students once again return to a superposition until university administration can decide which classification is more of a headache.” Indeed, several days later, Nobleton grad students received an email stating that they should continue going into work, because employees have to keep working. Amazing!
This new evidence, Dr. Valdez explains, actually makes sense in light of some prior observations that had previously seemed contradictory.
For example, Nobleton charges grad students a fee to use the campus gym because they are “not students,” yet also refuses to acknowledge the university’s grad student union and does not allow grad students to start a retirement fund, citing that grad students are “not employees.” Now, grad students everywhere can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there is a scientific explanation for what once seemed like a paradox.
These findings have profound implications on the very nature of graduate school. Proponents of multiverse theory have interpreted the results to imply that each university policy decision branches into two alternate realities – one in which grad students are students, and one in which they are workers. Perhaps in a few of those infinite alternative realities, your PCR actually worked.