Quantum physics fans will be familiar with Erwin Schrödinger and his controversial attitude towards cats.
In his famous thought experiment, he asked people to imagine a cat trapped in a box with a vial of poison and a source of radioactive material. If a monitor detects any radioactivity – an atom decaying – then the vial shatters and the cat is killed.
As the chances of the atom decaying or not decaying in an hour are equal, the cat is, theoretically, simultaneously alive and dead at that point, or at least until the box is opened and the contents observed.
This seems unduly harsh on cats, even in a thought experiment. But as cat owners will tell you, cats are simultaneously the best and worst pets to own so it all evens out. Probably.
We should have some sympathy though – we’re all a bit like one of Schrödinger’s cats these days, existing in more than one state at a time.
The UK is still in the EU but also out of it. Meanwhile, Scotland remains very much part of the UK while a great many people live in the expectation it won’t be for very much longer.
That’s the background to the Tay Cities Deal unveiled on Friday, the hugely ambitious wishlist that seeks to transform the fortunes of people in Tayside and Fife through billions of investment over the next decade.
Some of its proposals are dramatic, like creating the UK’s largest centre for oil and gas decommissioning. Others, such as greater region-wide planning for transport, seem more prosaic.
Funding for all of the 56 proposed projects will come from the UK and Scottish governments. What has not been said, of course, is where the Tay Cities Deal would be left if there is a post-Brexit vote for Scotland to leave the UK in the next few years.
Ironically, the UK Government has to act as if there is no chance of independence – to do otherwise would be to open the box and determine the cat’s fate once and for all.
At a time when the only certainty appears to be the unpredictability of history’s most petulant president, the Tay Cities Deal offers vast potential but there is a long road to travel before its visions can be realised.
What a time to be possibly alive.