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Anhad Kashyap

Business Process Reengineering Consultant, Alcatel Lucent

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Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Superposition and Collapse of the Wave Function

What is Quantum Mechanics? Why does superposition exist in nature? How does the wave function collapse and lead to a simplified and reduced classical result? How do we see the effects of Schrödinger's Cat in our daily lives?

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    Jun 15 2012: Schrödinger's Cat is, as you say, a 'thought' experiment and as such is not really intended to 'prove' anything. It is really more of an exercise in the problems of applying macroscopic world logic to quantum events.

    Schrödinger's Cat is a paradox that cannot be easily resolved. The point of the cat in this experiment is to add something tangible to a quantum event. We know that the very tiny particles (e.g. atoms, electrons, quarks) can be in superposition, meaning they can be in more than one place or in more than one state at the same moment. If a radioactive element decays by losing a proton and that proton then hits a sensor activating the gas that kills the cat then it is equally possible that the proton misses the sensor and possible that the radioactive element doesn't decay at all. All of these possibilities play out unless they are observed. So the cat in this sense is superfluous, it is just the particle from the decaying element that is in superposition. The cat is a macroscopic visual representation of the behaviour of the original particle.

    It is important to remember that an observer is not 'necessary to a result', but an observer will influence a result by his or her observation of it.

    But if you don't believe me then maybe you'll believe this ridiculous animation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu57B1v0SzI). Don't ask me why there is a rocket launch tagged on the end of this video but its pretty cool when you see it break the sound barrier.
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        Jun 15 2012: You know what... you were right I did enjoy that :D
        • Jun 16 2012: And..... ?! :)
          Let's specify :
          "....that chunk of metal can be in two different places, then why not you? "
          Any thoughts ? Could you share ?

          Thank you !
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        Jun 16 2012: Hi Natasha

        I would think of this as a multiplication problem, the more atoms/particles you add the more difficult it is to make them all behave in the same way. That said some theorists have suggested that it would technically be possible to walk through a wall by essentially teleporting from one side to the other. However it would probably require you to walk into the wall once a second for 7 or 8 times the age of the universe to be lucky enough to step through. It is basically the same as a room full of monkeys typing out the complete works of Shakespeare, there is a probability but it is a mighty small one. And, of course, that is before we get in to the problems of there being an observer.

        How about you... Any theories?
        • Jun 17 2012: Hi Loader !
          Thanks for asking, I have a lot of those ! ' A lot' is my favourite number :)
          Firstly let's have a look at yours .
          'Multiplication problem' would be quite a plausible explanation if we had an answer to the question : what is mass ? How particles get their mass ? If we knew, probably it would be the problem of interference and the chaotic dynamics would hold the answer. But heavily chased and not yet caught higgs boson ( God's particle ) seems to kiss us goodbye :) Or maybe not, only future can tell. Maybe it's not a particle even but something more subtle, we don't have a name for.
          Actually, the answer is here, it's you or me or universe ;
          what is the right question ?
          No need to go too far, just a couple of seconds further in the video there is a suggestion:

          "So imagine if you're in multiple places at the same time, what would that be like? How would your consciousness handle your body being delocalized in space ?

          My mind can't handle ' I am ' being not located in space and have no extendness in time, actually it is mind's main purpose - to prevent 'me' from' being' in the state of quantum superposition or being conscious of it for almost literally it means 'not to be. '
          I feel, as if I am a member of the monkeys' team who is typing Shakespeare' s "Hamlet " ; to be or not to be option :)

          I replaced ' consciousness' by ' mind' for reason.
          " Cogito ergo sum " Remember ? Descartes was right "I think, therefore I am". 'am' keeps 'I' from superposition. ' am' is the function of mind or vice versa, mind is a function of ' am' ' .
          My suggestion is : mind is the bridge between formless and form, between wave and a particle. Mind creates 'I am' reality located here and now ,' I am' has the position in space for a moment in time. But we all feel that it is not the whole story, hence the old age iconic question :
          " Who am I ?"
          Something like this... in two words :)
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        Jun 20 2012: Hi Natasha

        There is also the fun but silly idea of rendered reality, which I think was mentioned in an episode of Through the Wormhole. It claims that we are living in a simulation where matter and time are quantised so that matter, when looked at up close 'pixelates' (quarks) and time runs at a very high resolution but still has a limited number of 'frames per second' or more properly called space-time atoms. And here is where the superposition comes into it, just like in a video game all the data for the environment is there but it only renders the bit you are looking at, at any given moment. When you're not looking at it, it can behave pretty much how it wants.

        There is no real point to this idea other than to entertain the notion that I could, in fact, be Neo from The Matrix... but only the first one the other two sucked.
        ;-P
        • Jun 20 2012: Hi Loader !

          You don't like my interpretation and it's OK, I hold my ideas lightly :)
          The 'mind-creates-reality' version is not new, it's millennium's yeas old. And all this 'matrix' stuff is not that silly, simply a bit twisted and overloaded.
          Simplify, simplify ...

          Is it the wind moving or is it the flag? The monk answers, neither, its your mind that is moving.

          How old are Zen koans ? :)

          Everything everywhere does the same thing infinitely.
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    Jun 16 2012: Physicists don't really know why the normal laws of physics brake down at the quantum level, but quantum mechanics in a nutshell, is simply the fact that any particle smaller than an atom can be in superposition and that they can pop in and out of existence instantly and be created out of nothing.
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      Jun 16 2012: Welcome to the debate Kevin

      Particles don't have to be smaller than an atom to be in superposition, I refer you to the link posted by
      Natasha Nikulina (http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_o_connell_making_sense_of_a_visible_quantum_object.html).

      Also not only 'can' particles pop in and out of existence but in fact they do it all the time all around you and in you... The really interesting thing about this behaviour is that they don't require energy to do it. Well they do, but they don't need it at the moment they appear or disappear but can in fact 'borrow' the energy and pay it back later. Basically it is cause and effect but in reverse.

      For that nugget we can thank the frantic mind of our friend Werner Heisenberg.

      Enjoy
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        Jun 16 2012: Thanks for telling me that. I never knew that before.BTW, the video was great, thanks for giving me the link!
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      Jun 16 2012: Hi again Kevin

      I just skimmed your profile and noted your interest in spacecraft propulsion and thought you might enjoy this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v24A0HNwAUA) assuming you haven't already seen it.

      Enjoy
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    Jun 14 2012: Ok, the guy before me (Yubal) made no sense and its bugging me so I have to say something.

    Firstly Schrödinger's Cat is a thought experiment not an actual experiment and as such has nothing to do with said cat or its consciousness, it could just as easily been Schrödinger's wine glass, debating whether or not it has been smashed and besides the experiment specifies that the cat is unable to interfere with the decay of the radioactive matter.

    Secondly even if we include the consciousness of the cat it does not effect the outcome 'we and the scientists' are still unaware of the cat's life or death (assuming there isn't a lot of meowing and scratching coming from the box).

    Lastly superimposition is a term used in graphics not physics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superimposition) what you meant to say (all four times and as it says in the title of the post) is superposition which I would like to add really happens (http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100317/full/news.2010.130.html) and is not a 'clumsy tool' or an assumption of the OP.

    Yubal if your intention is to ask 'if' these things happen then you are just repeating the questions asked by the OP and you have not added anything to the debate.

    There, my OCD feels better now, perhaps later I'll add something of more substance to the debate but that'll do for now, I should be working anyway.
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      Jun 16 2012: Schrödinger used the Cat Experiment to show the absurdity of the idea of superposition. I guess, he would have agreed with the term I used for the idea of superposition: a clumsy tool.
      I quote from the same link you have provided about the Supersize Quantum Experiment:

      “Erwin Schrödinger,…… was so disturbed by the possibility of quantum weirdness on the large scale that he proposed his famous 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment. …..
      …..“During the time the box is shut, Schrödinger argued, the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead — an absurdity as far as he was concerned.”

      But even if he would use a glass instead of a cat, as you proposed, the same absurdity remains. Because a glass or anything else cannot be intact and broken at the same time, even when nobody had ever watched it. This shows the limitations or even the invalidity of the idea of superposition.

      The mistake you make is that you confuse between evidence and interpretation. As I said in my original comment, the quantum physics provides some very strange evidences about the reality. The scientists, in order to explain those strange evidences, provide some interpretations which superposition is one of them. It’s wrong to “take for granted these interpretations of the reality as a solid reality” (my own quotation) before they are proved.
      To get more of the clumsiness of the superposition idea, just think what does this idea tries to explain. It tries to explain the behavior of sub-atomic particles, suppose an electron. But the scientists even do not know what really an electron is. What they can merely say that it’s somekind (???) of a cloud (???) of an unknown substance (???) or energy (???). And what you are doing is putting a vague speculation (the superposition) about a hardly understood entity (an electron) on a pedestal of a solid evidence or even reality.

      My question ‘if’ was intended to ask ‘if there is at all superposition’.
      I had more to say but the space is over.
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        Jun 16 2012: Is there superposition at all is a good question, and you are right to question. However the problem remains that it is currently the best model we have to describe the way particles behave. I am assuming this information to be right because it is the best fit.

        If you asked me to prove the theory of gravity the answer is I can't. Fortunately we'll not all be flying off the planet as a result. This theory is the best fit for the observations we can make.

        Same applies to quantum mechanics. A cogent paradigm would be that I assume theories are innocent until proven guilty and you are assuming they are guilty until proven innocent. If a theory is right until it is wrong you work with it then revise it, if it is wrong until it is right you would give up while it is wrong and never know it was right. In other words your logic halts progression.

        If you intend to offer an explanation of the two slit experiment that differs from the current theory (which of course requires superposition to work) then I welcome it. Of course it would have to be a better fit for the observations than the current theory. If you can't offer an alternative then I recommend not telling people that it is a mistake to assume the best model is right, as this will mean that they, like me they will ask you for a better model..

        It is up to you to prove the theory wrong not me or anyone else to prove it right because we already have enough evidence to support the theory. I recommend viewing the link posted by
        Natasha Nikulina (http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_o_connell_making_sense_of_a_visible_quantum_object.html) as it is from TED and supports the idea of superposition.

        Thanks again to Natasha for the link it is already worth its weight in gold.... that is, if it had mass.
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    Jun 22 2012: Hi Anhad,

    The locus of particles in time and space are necessarily undefined in our time/space continuum.

    They are subject to noise introduced from other dimensional sources.

    This gives rise to a blurring of the absolute vectors through which transormations can occur along the timeline(s)

    Without the uncertainty principle, time(transformation) and space(potential transformation) - in all space/time continuums - could not exist.

    Can we be in more than one place/universe? Yes - we are perpetually in infinite places/universes, but the vectors themselves cannot be deviated beyond the latitude defined by the noise-field - so this constrains the places/universes to a narrow band.
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      Jun 23 2012: Hi Mitch,

      I sometimes have a gut feeling that as in case of RDBMS databases, information in different databases are entangled, similarly our consciousness and spirit being in different dimensions altogether are having their references here which means they are entangled here whereas their existence is somewhere else...

      I agree with you, We can be in more than one place/universe. Yes we can.

      Compare a Computer (Technological System) to your self (Human System).

      1. Your Body= Hardware=Matter (PHYSICAL FORM)
      2. Your Mind = Software = Consciousness (ENERGY)
      3. Your Soul = Power Source = Spiritual Energy (ENERGY)

      Now there is no fourth component I have been able to find so far.

      Now according to you and also according to my thinking,

      1.The body is here in this Universe
      2. The mind is in some different world, not in our brain. Our brain is having a reference or access to it.
      3. The Spirit is the primary current and again is in some other universe entangled to our body.

      Share your views :)
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        Jun 23 2012: Hi Anhad,

        I believe that the borders that exist in reality are inter-penetrated and chaotic (fractal).

        So, for example: the border between space(the physical) and metaspace(mind) becomes impossible to capture - the closer you examine it, the more complex it gets. But a pattern might be perceived. That pattern might have a mathematical description.
        Understanding these boundaries seems important somehow.
        For now I am concentrating on the space/metaspace boundary.

        So far, it looks like the organising principles of topology are at work unifying the physical and the mental (space/metaspace). Topology is the structure found in self-organising-systems(life). These can be simple chemical paths, or they can be complex neural paths.

        The topology defines how life re-concentrates what entropy has scattered - sometimes called "negentropy". (I suspect that the overall progress of entropy will not be exceded - it is yet to be shown if Newton's laws of thermodynamics apply beyond local observation).

        For all of life there is a continuous cycle of space->observation->metaspace->action->change (repeat).

        The driving engine behind that transition seems to be entropy.

        Observation lags behind the moment, action precedes the moment.
        Metaspace is not bound to the moment as tightly as entropic space is - it creates a noise field around the strict vector of entropy through time. This noise field can be regarded as "choice" it is a field of potential action - very much like the probability fields seen in quantum mechanics.
        The more complex the life-form, the greater this field of potential becomes.

        It looks like life itself creates new dimensions of time - and new dimensions of time create new universes.
        The big questions are: are we all in the same universe at any given instant? Or are we in all of them? Or are we only in our own? Or are we in a subset of them? and.. does this apply equally for space and meta-space?

        The boundary between mind and spirit? I haven't got that far.
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          Jun 24 2012: We can not scientifically examine the meta world. We can only feel and observe and at times measure the effects of the meta world on the physical world.
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        Jun 24 2012: Oh, I think the meta world (Mind) is giving up its secrets very rapidly these days.
        One must be careful not to mysticise it.
        When you consider that a mind is not disconnected from other minds, it gets easer to comprehend.

        Spirit, on the other hand, is a lot more elusive to examination.
        That is something that we will not find in someone's head, or even in any particular species.
        Lets get the metaverse understood first - then, I think, spirituality will become obvious.
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      Jun 20 2012: The cat would have an infinite number of lives as superposition doesn't just mean having something in two places but rather in all possible places and states, so:

      Cat lives = infinity x nine

      Until you looked at the cat then its wave form would collapse and it would be back to the standard issue nine lives.

      Also if a cat did have a 'half-life' then I imagine, in the same way uranium decays into lead, a cat would decay into a weasel.
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          Jun 20 2012: Jokes are not a solid... you can't piss on them... as I found out, to my cost.
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  • Jun 18 2012: Natasha, It makes perfect sense to me although but at the same time it doesn't, kind of reminds me of quantum behavior(thats a joke). But really id like to be able to understand quantum mechanics from a mathematical perspective. I have to say i have never been all that interested in mathematics, probably due to a natural predisposition, but to me this is very exciting.

    I have to say when really stepping back that i think theres a chance that the way we see the world is absolutely nothing like we suppose it is. I include quantum mechanics in this.

    the world seems to exist in two opposing forces this applies to so many aspects. Up down, left right, sperm and egg, matter and anti matter, life and death, hate and love,heaven and hell and so on and so on.

    Is this because those aspects are true, or because we as humans have two eyes, two legs, two feet, two hands, two arms, two ears, two nostrils, and 2 brain hemispheres(then again this could also only be perceived). I think theres a good chance that we see the world in this way due to being human and these views have allowed for us by way of the evolutionary process to provide for a successful model that replicates life. If this is true I guess it worked?

    Thoughts?
    • Jun 18 2012: No thoughts, 2 guesses though ... : )

      1.Richard Dawkins is your hero.
      2.Mandelbrot set is probably a mathematical/aesthetic version of quantum entanglement. If you download it in your mind , you will be much better position to make your educated guesses about QM :)

      Have a nice day !
      • Jun 18 2012: Thanks for a push in the right direction!

        I do like Richard Dawkins, but he's not my hero. You weren't to far off though, Sam Harris is my hero. He's a tiny bit more humble than Dawkins and I think has a more complete understanding of consciousness and philosophy, as a neuroscientist. Dawkins tends to argue points which there is no answer to as if the truth had been broadcasted to him by a supreme being(I am also guilty of this at times). I also love Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and altho they sit on opposite spectrums, there is much beauty in both of there works. They seem to be eternally battling here on TED.

        Thanks again

        -Brian
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      Jun 20 2012: Hi Brain

      I think you've addressed one of the big problems with being human. We tend to think of our minds and bodies as a gateway to the world around us and this simply isn't true, it is far more accurate to think of them as filters to cut out the unnecessary information. This doesn't have to be specific to quantum mechanics we can only hear sounds within a limited spectrum and we can only see colours in a limited spectrum though we know there are many more sounds and colours out there. When you include quantum mechanics in this you get some idea of how much filtering is occurring. An interesting quote from the science film What the Bleep do we Know is "The brain processes 400 Billion bits of information a second. BUT, we are ONLY aware of 2,000 of those." -Dr. Joseph Dispenza, D.C.

      Makes you wonder what we're missing out on.
  • Jun 17 2012: I like to follow this sort of thing, and while i don't pretend to understand the mathematics, it seems obvious that our brain, being an observer, is responsible for the collapse of the wave function upon receiving the information. However, our brain has tremendous creative energy as well, and is able to act strongly upon the result of the wave function collapse, determining what that collapse results in. All observable matter and energy is part of one universe thus making each of us literally a piece of the universal consciousness (God).
    Is observation then the cause of the apparently linear flow of time? I hope this isn't just bullshit and offers some food for thought
  • Jun 15 2012: I have always thought that the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment proved nothing except that physicists are self important.

    If an observer is necessary to a result, who observed the ignition of the first stars? The cat dies when the cat dies, the outside observer is irrelevant.

    One of the first lessons I learned in high school math was that when your math results in an absurdity, you have made a mistake. Quantum Mechanics may be capable of making a large number of accurate predictions, but it will one day be supplanted with a theory that makes sense.
    • Timo X

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      Jun 16 2012: The point of Schrödingers cat was indeed that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics was absurd and that the people who proposed it were mistaken.
      • Jun 16 2012: Timo,
        what do you mean by ' absurd ' ? !
        Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and others in 1924/27 ( !!!! ) postulated, that quantum mechanics couldn't be used for the description of a macro world, but was supposed to deal only with a subatomic particle zoo... hence micro world. Schrodinger's cat 'thought' experiment 75 yeas ago by 'a cat that was dead and alive at the same time' narrative showed, that it might be not quite true.
        2010 arrived with new development. VOILA ! The first ever quantum superposition in an object visible to the naked eye was observed !!! http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_o_connell_making_sense_of_a_visible_quantum_object.html
        It is a tiny resonating strip of metal – only 60 micrometres long, but big enough to be seen without a microscope – can both oscillate and not oscillate at the same time. But you couldn't actually see the effect happening, because the very act of observation would take it out of superposition. Most literally, it is the same Schrödinger's cat that has managed to survive the frigid temperatures, required for this experiment.:)

        What is absurd about it ? Who was mistaken ? It's just the way how science progresses, is it not ?
        • Jun 17 2012: Hi Natasha is this to do with consciousness and evolution potentially? What good would it serve humans if they were able to view superposition in the macro sense(I'm not saying it doesn't exist I'm just postulating the implications of observable superposition to the macro world). Humans seem to hit a logic wall when considering consciousness in the sense that if were all hunting for consciousness with our consciousness then you can never really be sure that what you have found is actually what consciousness is. What I'm suggesting is that evolution rules life as a governing dynamic and that this has been applied to what we can consciously perceive. To make an example in the macro, a deep rooted repressed event in an individuals life is pushed out of the consciousness by the brain in an attempt to decrease the pain that would ensue from conscious recognition of said event. We see this happen on the macro. Why then would the brain not work against the viewing of superposition as a defense mechanism related to evolution. I can't even imagine the implications of observing superposition on the macro level, but I'm almost positive that this would not enhance reproduction and continuation of life. How would one adapt to the circumstances of something like this being realized?

          I have to wonder if there are certain aspects of human consciousness that limit truths that are now showing to be true by way of quantum mechanics. Another instance of this is the view of the self. We cannot truly perceive who or what we are in the sense that you cannot objectively view yourself. Also nobody else can truly see who or what you are based on the fact that their isn't a way to trade consciousness yet.

          If sub atomic particles change based on observation is this due to some defense built into our current brain or is something else happening? Please be gentle, Ill be up front that i understand very little about quantum mechanics
          Thoughts?
          -Brian
        • Jun 19 2012: "But you couldn't actually see the effect happening, because the very act of observation would take it out of superposition."

          This is the absurdity. My position is that an outside observer is irrelevant. The ignition of the first stars was an event at the subatomic level. Who observed it? No one.

          So what happens to quantum mechanics when the role of the observer is removed? If I understand it right (and I probably do not), the Uncertainty Principle becomes a limitation on what is knowable, not a description of the physical universe.
        • Timo X

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          Jun 21 2012: @Natasha
          I disagree with the Copenhagen interpretation for a different reason than Schrödinger: it treats the observer as a classical object. This is unacceptable to me because observers must be affected by quantum mechanics as all other objects. Insofar that we can interpret quantum mechanics knowing that it is wrong (or at least incomplete) with respect to general relativity, I find the many worlds interpretation the most appealing.
    • Jun 17 2012: Sorry for hijacking your reply button, Barry:)

      Brian !
      I am reminded of notoriously known Richard Feynman's words :
      "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics "
      I don't understand QM , but it doesn't mean that I do.
      It's a classic example of a liar paradox , that shows the limitation of logic.

      The question is not why should we ' hit a logic wall '...the question is why shouldn't we ?
      In away we have to .
      For me quantum theory is a theory of everything without a scientific proof. It is a kind of 'make by your own " workshop. Proofs are everywhere ' under our feet and above our heads "
      Believe me or not , but Quantum entanglement brings more clarity to my mind than Newtonian apples that relentlessly for millennia have been falling down from trees for no reason.
      And I am only slightly exaggerating :)

      You are right, consciousness is a tricky concept, if you fix it , it slips away simultaneously. And here is the quantum match : you can't determine the position and momentum of an electron at the same time; if you define one, the other becomes fuzzy and ghostly and vice versa. I can't simply ' equate' consciousness and electron . But De Brogle's equation can. This formula shows how all matter and energy ( in quanta frame of reference) has a wave/particle duality. Consciousness can't be observed from the position of 'out there' by mind. And here is another match from another context : 'the consciousness is its content' , or mystic metaphor :' knower is the known ', 'seer is the seen'. Consciousness can be known by itself only, but it can't tell, it has no voice, for voice is a collapse of wave function. " Those who speak don't know , who knows doesn't speak" Equations are time free and can tell the story of enlightenment in its own scientific mythic language
      " to see the world through the eye of a photon"
      Does it make any sense to you ? :)
      Cheers !
    • Jun 20 2012: Hi, Barry !
      'You couldn't see the effect happening', but you can measure the oscillations afterwards.
      The resonating strip was connected to a tiny electric circuit that acts as a bridge between the microscopic and the macroscopic worlds. When measured afterwards, the resonator was sometimes in its non-oscillating ground state and sometimes in an oscillating "excited" state. The number of times it was measured to be in each state followed the probabilistic rules of quantum mechanics.
      If you are interested, there is a video on this page with more detailed description of the 'device'
      http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/science-questions/quantum-suicide.htm

      "So what happens to quantum mechanics when the role of the observer is removed?"

      What happens to stars, when there is nobody to watch them ? How can you prove that they are still there ? The proverbial tree in the wood :)

      Uncertainty Principle is a true description of the laws that govern the universe whether we like it or not. Uncertainty Principle and QM in general requires 'Paradigm shift '' in our perception of the reality. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just a change.
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    Jun 13 2012: Before I refer directly to your questions, here’s something which shows the levels of complexity in the topics you raise.

    When talking about Schrödinger's Cat and our observations of it, we and the scientists ignore something very fundamental & obvious: we all ignore the awareness of the CAT itself. The cat is already witnessing itself in that closed box, although it is not self-aware of its awareness. So what if the wave functions has already collapsed before Schrödinger or his followers open the box ?? Or perhaps, what if there’s a kind of a field of global awareness (as proposed by the scientific Global Consciousness Project running now for about 12-15 years - http://noosphere.princeton.edu) which might cause a constant collapse of wave functions of any kind ??

    I found the above simple example of ignoring the Schrödinger's Cat’s awareness just recently in an essay named “The Holographic Principle Theory of Mind” by MARK GERMINE (I added here more elaborations).

    Personally I don’t know you and your way of thinking. But by the questions you ask hereby, it seems as you are taking for granted these interpretations of the reality as a solid reality and as if what remains for us is only to understand them properly. But, for example, we don’t know whether the superimposition really exists in nature. The scientists just use the superimposition as a clumsy tool to explain some very strange (our perception-wise) outcomes of various scientific theories and experiments. It’s not at all certain that the superimposition exists, so asking “Why” or “How” about it might be “putting the cart before the horses” because there’s a more fundamental question of “If” which has not been answered yet.

    However, if you are already aware of the limitations of our interpretive tools (like superimposition) for the Quantum Physics, then I back off and agree that some of the questions you ask are worth of discussion.
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    Jun 12 2012: Until we make an observation, they say, the cat in the box is simultaneously dead and alive.
    This doesn't work in regular Einsteinian physics. If you try to work it out anyway you end up saying nonsense such as : "observations are causing this, so consciousness and quantum physics are deeply connected."

    If you change models from a single universe to a multiverse, you can go around the problem of having Deepak Choprah writing your preface. Ever heard of the Many Worlds Interpretation? Seems to make a lot more sense...
    • Jun 15 2012: Gerald !
      "This doesn't work in regular Einsteinian physics."

      Theory of relativity is not supposed to ' work ' on the subatomic particle level, the Standard Model is. Standard Model has got the status of a "theory of almost everything". Why almost ? Because it does not incorporate the theory of gravitation as described by Einstein's general relativity.
      MWI sounds pretty much the same ' story ' as quantum superposition , but presented in 'animated cartoons' , it is rather a psychological way of thinking about Q.T.It adds a kind of 'physicality' to it and it's not at all bad, it's cool ! But since the other universes can not be observed, for me it is just multiplying complexities without necessity or let's say MWI does not respect Occam's razor :).
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        Jun 18 2012: Let us talk of the "law of death sentence"
        * The law would be in a state of superposition in context to any observer until and unless someone commits a murder.
        * All stakeholders of the process, The Judge, The Murderer, The Witness would be the observers in context to the law.

        BEFORE I COMMIT A MURDER
        * The law is in superposition state for me "ANHAD IS MURDERER OR ANHAD IS NOT A MURDERER"
        I COMMIT THE MURDER
        * The wave function collapses for me "ANHAD IS A MURDERER"

        A Boy and Girl

        * Boy proposes
        * Girl does not respond.
        * Boy is in a superposition state "SHE LOVES ME" OR "SHE DOES NOT LOVE ME", Yes OR No.
        * Girl says Yes, Wave function collapses.
        * Girl says No, Wave function collapses.
        • Jun 18 2012: Hi, Anhad !
          Correct me if I am wrong :
          superposition is the state that is branching into at least two possibilities simultaneously.
          The description must be based not on options ' ...or....or...' but on the states/actions taking place at once '...and....and...and...'
          Let's take your 'boy-meet-girl' story ( it's more pleasant to deal with these kind of stories :)

          The boy is in the state on uncertainty,the girl, on the other hand is certain.
          And the boy knows that she knows So she is not in the state of superposition ( being in love and being not in love simultaneously ) for him either.
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        Jun 18 2012: I feel the Schrodinger Cat is a good thought experiment but the point we need to understand is furnished in the below examples. But the point what I want to make is there are several other thought experiments which can be done which are better than the CAT Experiment.
        • Jun 18 2012: In Schrodinger's experiment cat plays the role of a macro object, nothing more, you may put in the box anything you like or better you don't like, let it be a cockroach or a rotten apple :)
          S. experiment was really a breakthrough because it was the first to make a link between macro ( observable objects ) and micro (unobservable subatomic particles ) world ; about a century ago they were totally disconnected realms and were supposed to be such, a kind of 'flatland' approach, now the connection is dimly visible.
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        Jun 19 2012: The boy is uncertain so he is in a state of superposition.
        The girl is certain but until and unless she renders her potential opinion kinetic, the wave function would not collapse and the results would not be classical in nature. i.e. you are having a business plan in you mind for the past 10 years and have not executed it (Superposition), it aint a part of the classical world, it is when you decide to get into the business, you collapse the wave function.
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      Jun 18 2012: ISSUE 1: "Until we make an observation, they say, the cat in the box is simultaneously dead and alive "
      Answer:
      -----------

      Gerald and Natasha, Friend I do not know what you people are doing rite now which means I am not able to observe and therefore for me you guys are in a state of superposition.

      POINT 1
      * The operator which I would use would be OR not AND.
      * I cannot say that Natasha is watching TV AND sleeping but I can definitely say Natasha is watching TV OR Sleeping OR Laughing OR Eating.

      POINT 2

      * It is wrong to say that the cat is dead and alive simultaneously. We should say cat is dead or alive.
      * When we open the box and make an observation, the possibilities collapse and we get a reduced singular result.
      * Which means, one of the possibilities is having a probability of being closer to truth.
      * At every smallest fraction of time, wave function collapse and information is absorbed in the cosmic database in context to the observer.
      • Jun 18 2012: I would be in superposition for you if you could imagine me watching TV AND Sleeping AND Laughing AND Eating ...simultaneously , at once .
        Please don't do that ! I look awful in this thought experiment :)


        The best illustration of a quantum superposition I've ever met is based on an observation of a coral :

        Each coral head consists of thousand of individual polyps. These polyps are continually budding and branching into genetically identical neighbors. If we imagine this to be a hyper-intelligent coral, we can single out an individual and ask him a reasonable question. We can ask how exactly he got to be in this particular location compared to his neighbors -- if it was just chance, or destiny, or what?
        He would tell us that our question was completely stupid, this polyp would continue and tell us that his neighbors were quite clearly identical copies of him. That he was in all these other locations as well, but experiencing them as separate individuals. For a coral, branching into different copies is the most natural thing in the world.
        Check out here
        http://www.ted.com/talks/garrett_lisi_on_his_theory_of_everything.html

        Unlike us, a hyper-intelligent coral would be uniquely prepared to understand quantum mechanics. Our mind prevents us to be conscious that we ARE coral; we a global net of interconnections.
        In a sense , any fellow human is an identical copy of you :)

        Cheers !
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      Jun 19 2012: Quantum superposition is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics. It holds that a physical system -- such as an electron -- exists partly in all its particular, theoretically possible states (or, configuration of its properties) simultaneously; but, when measured, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations (as described in interpretation of quantum mechanics).
    • Jun 23 2012: Yes: "observations are causing this, so consciousness and quantum physics are deeply connected." is nonsense. Because that's not the way to come to the conclusion that "consciousness and quantum physics are deeply connected".