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Questions tagged [wavefunction-collapse]

Wavefunction collapse amounts to the apparent reduction of a wavefunction consisting of a superposition of several eigenstates to a single eigenstate (by "observation"). It underlies measurement in quantum mechanics and connects the wave function with classical observables, in a thermodynamically irreversible interaction with a classical environment, normally disfavoring future QM interference.

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What is the difference between a measurement and any other interaction in quantum mechanics?

We've learned that the wave function of a particle collapses when we measure a particle's location. If it is found, it becomes more probable to find it a again in the same area, and if not the ...
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State collapse in the Heisenberg picture

I've been studying quantum mechanics and quantum field theory for a few years now and one question continues to bother me. The Schrödinger picture allows for an evolving state, which evolves through ...
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What constitutes an observation/measurement in QM?

Fundamental notions of QM have to do with observation, a major example being The Uncertainty Principle. What is the technical definition of an observation/measurement? If I look at a QM system, it ...
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Would every particle in the universe not have some form of measurement occurring at any given time? [duplicate]

I know this is probably a common point of confusion, but I have a specific question about measurements in Quantum Mechanics. I read an explanation on this, but still have a point of confusion. The ...
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Is there a difference between observing a particle and hitting it with another particle?

First, let me state that I'm a lot less experienced with physics than most people here. Quantum mechanics was as far as I got and that was about 9 years ago, with no use in the meantime. A lot of ...
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What are the strongest objections to be made against decoherence as an explanation of “collapse?”

When we measure an observable A of a quantum system, we get an eigenvalue of A. Without worrying about connotations of Copenhagen vs. MWI, etc., let's just call this "collapse." Question: Among ...
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Does measurement, quantum in particular, always increase the total entropy?

Measurement of a quantum observable (in an appropriate, old-fashioned sense) necessarily involves coupling to a system with a macroscopically large number of degrees of freedom. Entanglement with this ...
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How is it possible that quantum phenomenons (e.g. superposition) are possible when all quantum particles are being constantly observed?

I don't understand how quantum mechanics (and therefore also quantum computers) can work given that while we work with quantum states, particles that this quantum state consist of cannot be observed, ...
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Is the collapse of the wave function inherently time asymmetric?

Schroedinger's equation, as we all know, is time symmetric. In quantum field theory, we have to come up with a more sophisticated CPT reversal, but the essential point remains unchanged. However, the ...
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Why does observation collapse the wave function?

In one of the first lectures on QM we are always taught about Young's experiment and how particles behave either as waves or as particles depending on whether or not they are being observed. I want to ...
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Paradox of the wavefunction collapse into un unphysical state

"A measurement always causes the system to jump into an eigenstate of the dynamical variable that is being measured, the eigenvalue this eigenstate belongs to being equal to the result of the ...
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If a wave function collapses into one state, does it ever go back to a superposition of states?

It is my understanding that after an observation, the wavefunction collapses to one state. Thus, if you do an observation right after an observation (that collapsed the wavefunction), you get the same ...
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Comments on entropy and the direction of time in Landau and Lifshitz's Statistical Mechanics

In Landau and Lifshitz's Stat Mech Volume I is the comment: However, despite this symmetry, quantum mechanics does in fact involve an important non-equivalence of the two directions of time. ...
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On the nature of the collapse of the wave function

The collapse of the wave function by measurements is one of the most mysterious properties of quantum mechanics. At what scale does the wave function collapse? What are the conditions for a collapse?...
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How do we know a quantum state isn't just an unknown classical state?

When an observer causes the wave function of a particle to collapse, how can we know that the wave function was not collapsed already before the measurement? Suppose we measure the z-component of the ...
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Is the Copenhagen interpretation merely an approximation to quantum mechanics?

So, I'm reading Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe (Knopf edition, p. 229). He's discussing Everett/MWI for a bit and I'm not really paying attention and then I wake up to this: [I]t's time to ...
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Why does the electron wavefunction not collapse within atoms at room temperature in gas, liquids or solids due to decoherence?

Decoherence theory predicts that any quantum particle coupled to any "large" environment should undergo decoherence and its wavefunction should collapse. This explains why measurement leads to ...
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How can two electrons repel if it's impossible for free electrons to absorb or emit energy?

There is no acceptable/viable mechanism for a free electron to absorb or emit energy, without violating energy or momentum conservation. So its wavefunction cannot collapse into becoming a particle, ...
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Does an electron move from one excitation state to another, or jump?

I'm wondering, when an electron changes state, does it move from one state to another over some (very small) time period? Or does it change from one state to another in no time? If the former, what ...
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DIY Quantum Eraser Experiment by the Scientific American: Is this really quantum?

Click here for the publication. Having performed this experiment, I have gotten clean results. Essentially, a double slit is made by putting an photon beam in the way of a wire with orthogonal ...
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What does it mean to apply an operator to a state?

Let's say I have an operator $\hat{A}$ and a state $|\psi\rangle$. What exactly is the state $\hat{A}|\psi\rangle$? Is it just another different state that I am describing using my $\hat{A}$ and $|\...
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How isolated must a system be for it's wave function to be considered not collapsed?

As an undergrad I was often confused over people's bafflement with Schodinger's cat thought experiment. It seemed obvious to me that the term "observation" referred to the Geiger counter, not the ...
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Has the Copenhagen Interpretation remained accurate?

Almost a century past, has the Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) undergone any modification? In other words, has any of its underlying principles been reformulated since? The notable (usual) examples ...
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When light reflects off a mirror, does the wave function collapse?

This question is specific to the Copenhagen interpretation, which states that the wave function collapses on interaction. If we have a beam of light reflected off a mirror, whether you see this light ...
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Is the wave function of a particle re-created after a measurement stops?

Yeah, I haven't quite understood, or been told, what happens to, for example an electron and its wavefunction, when you stop to measure it. I mean, an electron has a wave function describing its ...
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Does quantum collapse involve a loss of information? Does it require energy as suggested by the Landauer Limit?

I read in the context of quantum computing or of the minimal energy required for computation that there has to be a minimum possible amount of energy required to change one bit of information, called ...
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How does a Wavefunction collapse?

How does a wavefunction collapse into one state? More specifically, what conditions cause a wavefunction for a quantum particle to collapse? Does this have to do with density matrices? Please ...
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Does $\sigma_x\sigma_p = 0 \cdot \infty$ after a measurement of particle position?

I feel this question has an obvious answer that I should have been able to find independently, but I've searched for a while now it hasn't clicked. When position is measured, the uncertainty of the ...
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Has the collapse of wave function due to observation been recorded?

I've seen pictures like this one, which depict the outcome of the Double-slit experiment with wave-like or particle features, depending how measurement has taken place. The graphic showing multiple ...
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Momentum of particle in a box

Take a unit box, the energy eigenfunctions are $\sin(n\pi x)$ (ignoring normalization constant) inside the box and 0 outside. I have read that there is no momentum operator for a particle in a box, ...
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Does the collapse of the wave function increase entropy of the atomic system itself?

Does wave-function collapse cause the entropy of the atom (ie. the sub-atomic particle system that makes up the atom) to increase?
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Can a measurement partially “collapse” a wavefunction?

Let's say I have a wavefunction $\Psi$ which can be decomposed into a sum of it's energy eigenstates: $$ \Psi = a|1\rangle + b|3\rangle + c|8\rangle + d|10\rangle$$ Where, of course, $|a|^2 + |b|^2 +...
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Is Quantum Mechanics time-symmetric?

In physics we have the CPT-theorem which guarantees time-reversal symmetry of dynamical evolution (although in some edge cases we will also have to reverse parity and charge). It seems clear enough ...
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Successor to Copenhagen Interpretation as Orthodox Interpreation of Quantum Mechanics

First, I read the questions FAQ for this and I hope this does not violate the rules. I am not asking for personal opinion, but for observations of hard evidence of trends on this subject. When I ...
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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, ...
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The quantum state just after a position measurement

The wave function of a free particle is given as, $$\psi(x) ~=~ e^{-{ x }^{ 2 }/{ a }^{ 2 }}.$$ Then a position measurement is made and the position of the particle is found to be at $x=a$. My ...
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Inexact measurement and wavefunction collapse

As is usually said, measurement of an observable $q$ leads to collapse of wavefunction to an eigenstate of the corresponding operator $\hat q$. That is, now the wavefunction in $q$ representation is $\...
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Confusion about wavefunction separability

A wavefunction is inherently a multi-particle function. If you have a container that is perfectly isolated from the external universe (not possible, but just imagine it) and filled with $n$ particles,...
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Meaning of $\int \phi^\dagger \hat A \psi \:\mathrm dx$

While analysing a problem in quantum Mechanics, I realized that I don't fully understand the physical meanings of certain integrals. I have been interpreting: $\int \phi^\dagger \hat A \psi \:\...
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What exactly is meant by “observed” when talking about the wave-particle duality?

When talking about the wave-particle duality, teachers and books say that when you send a single photon through a slit, it makes a wave pattern. But if you send that particle through the slit and "you ...
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Decoherence and collapse

It is said that the decoherence does not solve the problem of measurement and/or the emergence of classicality, can somebody explain it with simple analogies or in a manner accessible to a non-...
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Stochastic processes and wavefunction collapse

Some time ago I had an idea that, as the unitary evolution of the wavefunction is described by a deterministic equation (PDE, simply), could be the collapse of it be described by some kind of a ...
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Does collapse of wave function to a momentum eigenstate violate speed of light restriction?

Let's consider a free system where the Hamiltonian is $\hat{p}^2/2m$. At time $t=0$, we start with a state at position $x$. An instantaneous time $\delta t$ later, where $\delta t\rightarrow 0$, we ...
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What processes cause the collapse of a wavefunction and break entanglement?

This question states that measuring the spin of an entangled particle causes the collapse of the wavefunction and thus the entanglement is broken. Then this question states that we don't know what ...
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What happens after the collapse of a wavefunction?

If I have a quantum system which I prepare in a certain state, this state then evolves unitarily via a Hamiltonian. Suppose an observer provokes a collapse of the wave function by a certain ...
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Is it really right to say that we never measure anything exactly in QM?

In reference to this elaborate answer by @DanielSank, I would like to pose the following question(s) in order to verify my understanding of the subject matter--in particular, that of the nature of ...
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Has this experiment really demonstrated wave-function collapse?

My question is: why did the following experiment claim that it had demonstrated the wave-function collapse? Experimental proof of nonlocal wavefunction collapse for a single particle using homodyne ...
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Why is wave-function collapse still being taught in quantum mechanics? [closed]

I don't really understand why wave-function collapse is still being taught while we seem to have better interpretations of QM available nowadays. During the early development of quantum mechanics the ...
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Quantum Collapse

When we observe a quantum object does it collapse into a point? Or does it collapse into a smaller wave of area that is out of our range of accuracy? My gut tells me the latter.
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How does a state vector be projected onto an eigenspace after measurement

In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement_in_quantum_mechanics#Degenerate_spectra, it is said that If there are multiple eigenstates with the same eigenvalue (called degeneracies),..., The ...