Quantum Superposition

By Frank Forte

If you have an interest in quantum physics, you might have tried to wrap your head around the fact that particles like photons can be in more than one place at the same time.

I believe the strange quantum effects of superposition have to do with the object changing states.

In the double slit experiment, it has been shown by firing a single electron or photon at a time, the interference pattern still appears.This means it is in more than one place at a time.

If there are no other photons fired at the same time, why does the photon not act like a particle and go straight through one of the slits onto the screen/detector? Why is there any probability of the particle flying off one way or the other?

Take a look at this video of superposition:

While the photon is traveling, I would argue that it is literally a wave, a perturbation of space time, energy traveling through a field, just like sound waves or waves traveling through water. When passing the double slits, it does pass through both slits at the same time, causing interference with itself, and creating a probability that the photon will collapse in an “unexpected” position (unexpected, if you expect it to always act like a particle).

I would say that there is no particle in two places at the same time. This is because in a state of superposition, it is not a particle, but a wave of energy. It needs to “collapse” into an object in order to interact (in order for you to observe it) but until it does, it can be considered in more than one place at a time… as a wave that is traveling through space-time if you will.

Another way to visualize it (as I do) is that a photon is like a liquid, it can coat a surface until it crystalizes or condenses into one point.

Consider the following article about photosynthesis. They argue that the photon checks all paths at once and chooses the most efficient one:


This argument, and the basis of quantum computing are consistent with the particles literally being in more than one place at a time, and, to use my own words, they condense or crystallize in the most efficient location (which should correspond with the mathematical probabilities given by the Schrödinger equation).

Here is an analogy. If you stretch a drop of water into a thin layer on a substrate, it will bead up into a ball (this is the most efficient shape because it minimizes surface area and lowers the surface energy, assuming the substrate is hydrophobic). You can think of “more than one place” as the area of the substrate that is coated just before the water beads up into a ball and ends up “in a single place”. The probability is most likely that the droplet of water will end up in the middle of the area it was covering, but there is a small probability that it will end up towards one of the edges. Further, if there is a spec of dust for the water to “grab onto”, it’s final location will depend on the location of that spec. It found the most efficient location instantly, because it “knew” where the spec of dust was before it took it’s final, spherical shape and location. The bead of water was never in more than one location at a time, but the water was.

Now the act of observing disturbs the photon or electron enough that it “beads up” into one location, so it’s state is changed and it is no longer able to be in more than one place at a time.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 at 2:27 am and is filed under science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.