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 electron is in multiple places at once (is a wave) until it is observed, but I sadly have never been convinced. I've taken a basic course on the subject and watched countless documentaries that explain this, but I have a hard time accepting that we can change the state of the world just by observing. Questions that have popped into my head are things like:
- What if a brain dead person looks and doesn't comprehend?
- What if I take a picture and don't look at that picture for years later? Is the cat both alive and dead for years all because I didn't look at the picture?
- What if a friend and I flip a coin, and only I look? When asked which came up, I would say "Heads" and he would say "Both". Are we both right? Doesn't my absolute knowledge make him wrong?
- It seems like the trend in science has always been to show us how small and irreverent we are. From finding out that we are not at the center the universe, to finding out that we are just one planet of many, in one solar system of many, in one galaxy of many, and possibly even in one universe of many, to finding out that all life on earth came from the same place (making us less special then we thought), to finding out that our genetic code is filled with genetic bloat and the little left over is nearly identical to a banana. After all that, I find out that I am in fact so special that all matter in the universe ceases to exist when I close my eyes!
Currently I am one of those people that think that moon is there even when I'm not looking. Can someone point me a convincing argument for all this so that I can finally be convinced?
What I gathered from the replies so far is that superposition is a way of representing our uncertainty of an answer. By saying that a cat is in a state between life and death, we are actually saying that we don't know in a mathematically describable way. This would imply that our observation does not change reality, it only changes our certainty.
But what about electrons acting like waves (going through 2 slits at once) when we're not observing and like particles (being visible electrons) when we are observing in the double slit experiment? This seems to show that they are both in reality and indicates that our observation does change reality (which of the two it is at the moment).
This is the contradiction that I struggle with. (And if I am wrong about my interpenetration, please correct me.)
I think I'm understanding this now. The only remaining issue is this: The electrons in the double slit experiment that act like waves before we look and like particles after we look are exposed to the environment (gas, photons, etc.) the whole time. Shouldn't it be one or the other the whole time due to this exposure?