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21
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6answers
8k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
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
votes
4answers
1k 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
9
votes
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; ...
9
votes
3answers
873 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 ...
8
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
6
votes
4answers
474 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
305 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: ...
5
votes
1answer
210 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
votes
1answer
369 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
votes
2answers
645 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
votes
5answers
167 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
votes
2answers
248 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
233 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
4
votes
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
votes
2answers
574 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
323 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
423 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
votes
3answers
637 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
2answers
93 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

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
votes
4answers
790 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
3answers
669 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
132 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
213 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
223 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
votes
1answer
222 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
70 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
4answers
882 views

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
0answers
148 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
126 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
596 views

Nonlinear waves superposition

Non-linear waves do not superimpose to each other, but why? What characteristics give this property?
2
votes
2answers
355 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
votes
4answers
867 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

How do we know superposition exists?

How do we know superposition exists? Has it been observed, or has it been deduced, and how certain are we? The Copenhagen Interpretation seems to imply that superposition collapses into one state ...
2
votes
1answer
560 views

Wave superposition, is my textbook wrong?

Here's the question: Two coherent electromagnetic waves are incident simultaneously at some point in space. The intensity of each independent wave is $I_0$. What is the intensity of the superposition ...
2
votes
4answers
564 views

The meaning of Superposition

Is superposition purely conceptual or does it represent some real "thing"? Said another way, is superposition thought to have some tangible physical manifestation or is it simply the lack of physical ...
2
votes
2answers
164 views

Undamped oscillations. Why is the solution a linear combination of $\sin()$ and $\cos()$?

$ma = mg - cx$, where $x(0) = x_0 = 0$ is the position in which there is no tension in the rope. $dx/dt = v_0$ for $t = 0$; $v_0$ is a known constant. The discriminant of the characteristic ...
2
votes
3answers
102 views

Is wave superposition always equivalent to wave interference?

I'm confused when using these 2 words "wave superposition" and "wave interference" since their definition is very similar. So, are these 2 term the same?
2
votes
4answers
438 views

Has a photon or electron ever been observed in a state of superposition?

Has subatomic particles ever been seen in a state of superposition or do we just detect information like qubits about the state of the particle? So is actual matter in superposition or is it just ...
2
votes
2answers
58 views

Where the extra power comes from?

Suppose we have two radio waveforms each has amplitude of 1, then the total power is 2. Suppose these two waveforms add up some where constructively, then the amplitude become 2, and the total power ...
2
votes
4answers
200 views

Physical meaning of linear combination of possible states in infinite well

The solution of infinite well, positioned from $x=0$ $x=l$, is $$ \Psi_n(x,t)= \sqrt{\frac{2}{l}}\sin\left(\frac{n\pi}{l}x\right)e^{iE_nt} $$ But the most general solution of this problem is : $$ ...