It is natural to ask why ordinary everyday objects and events do not seem to display quantum mechanical features such as superposition. Indeed, this is sometimes regarded as “mysterious”, for instance by Richard Feynman. In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger devised a well-known thought experiment, now known as Schrödinger’s cat, which highlighted this dissonance between quantum mechanics and classical physics.

The modern view is that this mystery is explained by quantum decoherence. A macroscopic system (such as a cat) may evolve over time into a superposition of classically distinct quantum states (such as “alive” and “dead”). However, the state of the cat is entangled with the state of its environment (for instance, the molecules in the atmosphere surrounding it). If one averages over the quantum states of the environment—a physically reasonable procedure unless the quantum state of all the particles making up the environment can be controlled or measured precisely—the resulting mixed quantum state for the cat is very close to a classical probabilistic state where the cat has some definite probability to be dead or alive, just as a classical observer would expect in this situation.

Quantum superposition is exhibited in fact in many directly observable phenomena, such as interference peaks from an electron wave in a double-slit experiment. Superposition persists at all scales, provided that coherence is shielded from disruption by intermittent external factors. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that for any given instant of time, the position and velocity of an electron or other subatomic particle cannot both be exactly determined. A state where one of them has a definite value corresponds to a superposition of many states for the other.

— Wikipedia on *Quantum superposition*

.

It is natural to ask why ordinary everyday objects and events do not seem to display quantum mechanical features such as superposition. Indeed, this is sometimes regarded as “mysterious”, for instance by Richard Feynman.

Superposition is not “mysterious”. It is “mysterious” only if you regard “a superposition state” as a physical state.

Only observable states are physical states. Any observable, microscopic or macroscopic, is NOT a superposition.

A superposition is NOT observable, even in principle; because the component states of a superposition are physically-indistinguishable mathematical states, aka macroscopically-indistinguishable microscopic states.

(Those component states, aka eigenstates, are observable and distinguishable once the corresponding measuring device is allowed.)

They are indistinguishable because the distinction is not defined in terms of the difference between different potential experimental or observational results.

Actually, the distinction is not even *definable*, because the corresponding measuring device is not allowed in the experimental design yet.

— Me@2022-06-15 11:51:22 AM

.

.

2022.06.16 Thursday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK

You must be logged in to post a comment.