“When we think of quantum particles existing in a superposition of states, we are considering them to be in a state of spin up and spin down–so they can be everything that’s possible for them to be. This is somewhat analogous to flipping a coin in the air and rather than having it fall down into a state of clearly being “heads” or “tails,” it just stays spinning. And while it’s spinning, it’s in that superposition of states. And then when someone you finally look to see what state it is in–by taking a measurement–you catch the coin, and you have a measurement.
So the idea of all of us existing in a superposition of states, leads us to expect that we ought to be able to sometimes see signs of this. What kind of signs might you notice?”
We often think in terms of quantum physics being something very complicated that we can’t understand that we don’t need to understand, since it has to do with the realm of the very small–however, recent research indicates that’s not true. A survey of physicists showed that more than two thirds of the physicists interviewed believe that you and I and everybody watching all exist in a superposition of states. So what, exactly, is a superposition of states?
You may have heard of Schrödinger’s cat being alive and dead–at the same time. This was a thought experiment intended to demonstrate the ridiculous quality of quantum physics and the impossibility of these ideas applying to our everyday lives. The thought experiment consists of a box with a cat, a vial of poison, a radioactive isotope decaying at some unpredictable rate. That little bit of randomness means that we can’t predict when–or if–the device that can break open the vial of poison might activate a series of…
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