The Superposition Principle

The Portal


Hi It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio say on the topic of Super Position. Now to those of you in the know. Superposition is an odd word in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schroeder's cat in the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that. The cat is both dead and alive at the same time. Rigorously so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system which it's life depends are a mixture of two distinct states that are somehow co-mingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies for example whenever you have a non quantum system that is altered by its observation that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall Chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent. Quantum theorist who would analogize chimps two electrons and goodall to her mission observable executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics. Envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation. Such as this whoever I have changed my mind in the case of superposition if I would like to explain to begin with superposition isn't a quantum phenomena for example. Imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia. And that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a super position because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other the analog of a physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple choice question found on the landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here it is easy to see the danger of the setup assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs what happens when you get a question. That doesn't include your situation as an answer. What if the landing card asked is all of your change in a euros or be Swiss francs with no other options available? Well this as stated is a completely classical superposition problem having nothing to do with quantum theory. We're you to have such classical question asked of you like this. There would have been no way for you to answer however if the answer. We're on the multiple choice menu. There would be no problem at all and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets so if the state in question isn't on the multiple choice menu. The classical world is forced to go. Mute is there is no answer determined by the system whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices the answers then completely determined by the system state at the time that the question was asked. Oddly the quantum world is in a way exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described despite what you may have heard to the contrary in order to understand this. We'll have to introduce a bit of jargon so long as the system now called the Hilbert Space State is on the list of answers technically called the system of eigen vectors corresponding to the question now called a quantum observable the question will return a completely deterministic answer technically called the eigen value corresponding to the State. Iconductor. These are in a sense. Good questions in quantum theory because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple choice options so if that is completely deterministic while then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminately that we hear so much about what I told you that it. We're one hundred percent confined to the situation. Which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple choice answers when the landing card asked if all your changed completely in euros or only francs. The classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in Euros. So no answer could be determined but if your pocket change were somehow quantum while then you might find that seventy five percent of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros and would be wilder only turn into pure francs twenty five percent of the time just by virtue of your being asked for measurement by the landing cart in the quantum theory. This is due to the multiple choice. Answers of the so-called observable represented by the landing card question not being well suited to the mix state of your pockets in a super position between euros and francs in other words quantum theory gets probabilistic. Only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminately appears to come from asking bad multiple choice questions in both the classical an quantum regimes in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer quite honestly. I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous in accommodating really bad questions for some reason. They don't like the idea of Kalyan observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer a bad question but that is precisely why I do like it points out that the quantum is deterministic. Where the classical theory is deterministic and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. This is because it is really willing to answer questions that are in a sense that can be made precise bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is why would a quantum system over compensate for the lousy questions being posed when the classical system seems to know not to answer? So why bring any of this up well? The first reasons that I couldn't resist sneaking personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered but the second reason is that I've come to believe that we are wasting our political lives unjust such superposition questions for example. Let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now in this podcast using superposition as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization. There's no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born. There is no question that it has a right to live yet. Pro Choice and pro life. Activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg you can guess my answer here. The question of is it. A baby's life or a woman's choice is agreed upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple choice answers in those two cases however during the process of embryonic development something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically somehow a nonsense blast ula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science which has yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in Utero isn't changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning and tilted towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists rather than the umbrella gist and developmental biologist to hand us the life versus choice observable with it's too terrible multiple choice options if we'd let the embryologist set the multiple choice question there would be at least twenty three carnegie stages for the embryo before you even get to fetal development but instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system. We are instead permanently. Deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives. So does the somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not all it does is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics that would allow our society to be led by those activists. Who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience? We don't even think to ask. Who are these people who've left us? At each other's throats debating an inappropriate multiple choice question that can never be answered well in the spirit of the portal we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit and I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naive activism fairly impoverished worldview the activist mindset is always trying to remove nuance elections. That might better match our world's needs from among the multiple choice answers until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs? Yes or no. Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated? Equally should embrace capitalism or chew socialism racism systemic problem or convenient. Excuse is China trading partner or a strategic rival has technology stagnated or. Is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed. Has Feminism gone too far or not far enough? In all of these cases there's an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers in agreement with simple multiple choice. Political options that foreclose all hope in general we can surmise when this occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divided us. Handed us by activists so I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness and it may be governing your life at a level. You have never considered think about where you were. Most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself when I listened to the debates at my dinner table. Am I hearing set of multiple choice answers that sound like? They were developed by scholars interested in understanding or by activists who are pushing for an outcome if the ladder thing about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middle brow binary dilemmas and try llamas instead. Trask a new question if my loved ones and I trust the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers activists in the news media. Could we together fashionable list of multiple choice answers that we might agree? Contain an answer. We all could live with and that better describes the true state of the system. I mean do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really WanNa talk about Scylla Simon in heroin in the same breath. Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression or that governs every aspect of our lives before long. It is my hope that you will develop an intuition. That many long running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binary that can only represent. The state of our world is a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers. That you never would have chosen for

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