A basic principle of solutions of *linear* differential (often wave) equations, ensuring that the sum ("superposition") of two solutions is automatically a solution as well. Conversely, solutions (amounting to quantum states in quantum mechanics, since the Schrödinger equation is linear) can be ...

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Why do travelling waves continue after amplitude sum = 0?

My professor asked an interesting question at the end of the last class, but I can't figure out the answer. The question is this (recalled from memory): There are two travelling wave pulses moving in ...
24
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7answers
9k views

How is quantum superposition different from mixed state?

According to Wikipedia, if a system has $50\%$ chance to be in state $\left|\psi_1\right>$ and $50\%$ to be in state $\left|\psi_2\right>$, then this is a mixed state. Now consider state ...
18
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5answers
2k views

Linearity of quantum mechanics and nonlinearity of macroscopic physics

We live in a world where almost all macroscopic physical phenomena are non-linear, while the description of microscopic phenomena is based on quantum mechanics which is linear by definition. What are ...
17
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4answers
1k views

Why do electrons in an atom occupy only the stationary states?

When we talk about the elementary problems in quantum mechanics like particle in a box, we first calculate the energy eigen-function. Then we say that the most general state is the linear combination ...
12
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4answers
2k views

Schrödinger's cat; why was it necessary?

Could someone please explain to me the idea that Schrödinger was trying to illustrate by the cat in his box? I understand that he was trying to introduce the notion of the cat being both alive and ...
11
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4answers
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What's the difference between an entangled state, a superposed state and a cat state?

1) Can a state be entangled without also being a superposition? (Please give an example.) 2) Can a state be a superposition without being entangled? (Again, an example please.) 3) And what about ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Quantum Joke (not a real joke, not a riddle)

Supposing I want to make a quantum joke, like writing this on a coffee machine: $$| \text{Status}\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}\ \big( | \text{Working}\rangle \color{red}{\pm} | \text{Down}\rangle ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Why do neutrinos propagate in a mass eigenstate?

I am aware that flavor $\neq$ mass eigenstate, which is how mixing happens, but whenever someone talks about neutrino oscillations they tend to state without motivation that when neutrinos are ...
10
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3answers
941 views

If superposition is possible in QM, why do we often assume systems are already in their eigenstates?

My understanding is that an arbitrary quantum-mechanical wavefunction can be written as a linear combination of eigenfunctions of some Hermitian operator, most commonly the Hamiltonian; when a ...
9
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5answers
1k views

Plants and quantum mechanics!

I have been working on quantum biology and found something interesting that I would like to write an equation for. Scientists have wondered how plants have such a high efficiency in photosynthesis; ...
8
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4answers
3k views

Why is the Principle of Superposition true in EM? Does it hold more generally?

In the theory of electromagnetism (EM), why is the principle of superposition true? Can we read it off from Maxwell's equations directly? Does it have any limit of applicability or is it a ...
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3answers
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How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics?

How is a bound state defined in quantum mechanics for states which are not eigenstates of the Hamiltonian i.e. which do not have definite energies? Can a superposition state like ...
7
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1answer
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Differences between pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states

I am currently trying to establish a clear picture of pure/mixed/entangled/separable/superposed states. In the following I will always assume a basis of $|1\rangle$ and $|0\rangle$ for my quantum ...
7
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3answers
344 views

Is it possible that we have a physical state which is a mixture of discrete eigenstates and continuous ones?

For a system has both continuous and discrete spectrum, is it possible that a physical states is something like: ...
7
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2answers
222 views

How does quantum superposition make calculation faster?

In every description of a quantum computer I've seen (that isn't extremely technical), they've been described as computers that use qubits, that use a superposition of 1 and 0 to make processing ...
6
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4answers
579 views

Is a photon always in a state of superposition while traveling through space?

In the double-slit experiment, we emit a photon that is in a state of superposition (wave form) which travels through both slits to interfere with itself. When we measure which slit it went through, ...
5
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1answer
228 views

Does the Strong Nuclear Force follow Superposition?

I have just started the study of nuclear physics in my high school, and while reading about nuclear forces and binding energy per nucleon, I found out that the nuclear forces are highly short ranged ...
4
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2answers
707 views

Linearity of Quantum Mechanics?

The proof of the No-Cloning Theorem states "By the linearity of quantum mechanics, ..." -- Could someone please give me a rough sketch/outline of what this means? Does it have to do with the Hilbert ...
4
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3answers
350 views

Why are the energy eigenstates realized in atomic transitions?

I have a question like "Why is it often assumed that particles are found in energy eigenstates?", it is a little different, though. When one solves the hydrogen atom, one can use a polynomial Ansatz ...
4
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1answer
397 views

Bra-ket notation, Bits, & Superposition

I am a quantum computing enthusiast, and recently I stumbled upon this the following two propositions: $$ \alpha|1\rangle + \beta|0\rangle$$ What does this mean? My understanding of this is that: ...
4
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5answers
187 views

Looking for clarification on superposition [closed]

I have always had a hard time accepting the concept of superposition from quantum mechanics. I know that the leading physicists say that the cat is both alive and dead until it is observed and that an ...
4
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2answers
266 views

What is the physical reason behind linearity of Schrodinger's equation?

What is the physical reason for Schrodinger equation to be linear? Though in physics many interactions or dynamics are found non linear.
4
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1answer
2k views

What exactly does Aaron D. O'Connell's experiment show?

I watched a TED talk by the scientist Aaron D. O'Connell about actually seeing quantum superposition. The link to the talk is :- ...
4
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1answer
249 views

Experimental relationship between linear dependence and superposition

From Griffith's Introduction to Electrodynamics The principle of superposition may seem obvious to you, but it did not have to be so simple: if the electromagnetic force were proportional to the ...
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Classical vs qubits: Superposition

Since a quantum information lecture today I have been wondering what does it really mean for a state to be in superposition? Is this something that is answerable? This is what we learnt (or what I ...
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2answers
91 views

Should the eigenkets be weighted in $|P\rangle = \sum\limits_{r}|\xi^r\rangle$?

Page 37 of Dirac's book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, states The condition for the eigenstates of $\xi$ to form a complete set must thus be formulated, that any ket $|P\rangle$ can be ...
4
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1answer
53 views

Non coherence of Fermions and Bosons through $U(1)$

I "know" the textbook answer why we cannot write, $$ |\psi\rangle = a|j=\tfrac{1}{2}\rangle + b|j=1\rangle $$ as "each term in the quantum superposition transforms differently under $U(1)$", $$ ...
4
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1answer
146 views

How to check whether Schrödinger's cat was in superposition of states?

Suppose we can make an arbitrarily precise preparation of a Schrödinger's cat (and isolate it arbitrarily well so that decoherence is not a problem). If we prepare lots of cats in this state, what ...
4
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2answers
726 views

What happens when you pass a current through a coil made of a ferromagnetic substance?

I know when you pass a current through a length of copper coil or a solenoid, there is the induction of a magnetic flux. But what of the coil made of the ferromagnetic material, the permanent type ...
4
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1answer
88 views

When does the principle of superposition apply?

I assumed from my general physics courses that the principle of superposition was just an empirical fact about forces. Then I could understand that derived quantities like the $E$ and $B$ fields ...
3
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4answers
439 views

Is this statement about quantum mechanics valid?

In Philosophy of Language by William G. Lycan, there are the lines: Even apparent truths of logic, such as truths of the form "Either P or not P", might be abandoned in light of suitably weird ...
3
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3answers
673 views

A quantum particle moving from A to B will take every possible path from A to B at the same time

If a quantum particle can take an unlimited number of paths to get from point A to point B wouldn't a quantum particle never get from point A to point B? A quantum particle takes every path at the ...
3
votes
4answers
902 views

Is the superposition principle universal?

In David J. Griffiths' Introduction to Electrodynamics, he claims that the superposition principle is not obvious but has always been found to be consistent with the experiments. So I was wondering ...
3
votes
2answers
94 views

Can I alternate between notes really fast and have it sound like a chord?

The question basically amounts to whether I can construct the illusion of superposition with adjacent sine waves of varying frequency. Context I'm trying to play music on a Tesla Coil (like OneTesla ...
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4answers
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Why is quantum entanglement so important?

Entanglement also allows multiple states to be acted on simultaneously, unlike classical bits that can only have one value at a time. Entanglement is a necessary ingredient of any quantum ...
3
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3answers
753 views

How can we create superposition in QM?

How can we force a particle (let's say that we know this particle has spin up) to be in a superposition of spin up and down? Wouldn't literally any interaction of it with anything cause it to be in ...
3
votes
1answer
50 views

Is QC with Superpositioned Quantum Gates any different than normal Quantum Computation?

This might be more appropriate for theoretical CS stackexchange, but it feels sufficiently low level to be relevant here. Consider the following thought experiment: I have a Quantum FPGA, it is a ...
3
votes
2answers
89 views

What is the qualitative difference between quantum superpostion and mixed states? [duplicate]

As I understand it, if one has a complete knowledge of the state of a quantum system (insofar as one knows the statistical distributions of all the observables associated with the state) then one can ...
3
votes
1answer
58 views

Physiological Significance of Superposition

To what extent is the concept of superposition appropriate to physiology? In other words, can organisms "actually" exist in a state of superposition?
3
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4answers
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Resultant frequency if 3 harmonic notes (a chord) is played

If I know the frequency of individual notes being played (let's assume D, F# and A), how do I determine the final frequency if they are played (nearly) simultaneously as a chord. To put the problem ...
3
votes
1answer
296 views

Superposition of electromagnetic waves and energy localization

Sorry for the long question. I didn't know how to make it shorter. I'm trying to understand how energy is spatially localized in an electromagnetic wave. My premises are: Electromagnetic energy is ...
3
votes
1answer
236 views

Schrödinger's cat and the difficulty of macroscopic superposition state

The Schrödinger's cat was regarded as peculiar since we seldom encounter a superposition state in macroscopic scale: $$ | \mathrm{dead \,\,cat} \rangle + | \mathrm{alive \,\, cat}\rangle $$ We more ...
3
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1answer
243 views

Superpositions with two observers

This is a bit of an odd question. I'm not a physicist, so bear with me if I say something wrong. Lets say you have some sort of quantum event where matter is in a superposition. Standing next to you ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

Superposition State in Coin Toss

I was reading the following lines from Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Nielsen and Chuang on page 278 of chapter 7. A coin has two states and makes a good bit but a poor qubit ...
3
votes
1answer
193 views

Superposition and simultaneous observation

Trying to understand superposition. Ok, so double slit experiment. The multiple paths the particle simultaneously travels interfere with each other but as it is absorbed, it chooses one "actual" ...
3
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0answers
166 views

Superposition principle and polarization

I am reading an optics book (Physics of Light and Optics by Peatross and Ware) that asserts this: A beam of light can always be considered as an intensity sum of completely unpolarized light and ...
2
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4answers
706 views

Nonlinear waves superposition

Non-linear waves do not superimpose to each other, but why? What characteristics give this property?
2
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3answers
136 views

What are the functions of these coefficients $c_1,c_2,c_3,c_4$ in $ \psi_{sp^3}= c_1\psi_{2s}+ c_2\psi_{2p_{x}} + c_3\psi_{2p_y}+ c_4\psi_{2p_{z}}$?

Hybridised orbitals are linear combinations of atomic orbitals of same or nearly-same energies. Atomic orbitals interfere constructively or destructively to give rise to a new orbital which is what we ...
2
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2answers
454 views

Is superposition principle equally valid for both scalar and vector quantities?

I was wondering if superposition is even applicable to scalar quantities because scalars should simply add up to give final result as there is no sense of direction. Do we have any example of a vector ...
2
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4answers
953 views

Does measuring destroy entanglement

Before measuring a quantum particle(photon) it exists in a superposition state, once we observe(measure) it, it settles in one of the possible states(destroying superposition). For entangled ...