The really neat thing about objects in superposition is that they remain somehow interconnected and can communicate even when they are separated, a characteristic called entanglement. In addition, what affects one will instantly affect the other even if they are separated by great distances.
One question bothering some physicists though is: why can’t larger objects in the everyday world, like a ball or a person, achieve quantum superposition and be in two places at once? The problem with superposition is that, the larger an object, the more easily its fragile quantum state collapses and is reduced to only one of its two locations. No one knows why a superposition collapses, but two of the most well known theories include:
- the conscious observer, who by observing or measuring the quantum state, induces it to collapse; and,
- the multiple universes view in which, when a superposition collapses, each state branches off to form another universe, resulting in an infinite number of universes.
The Penrose Interpretation
A third theory, known as the Penrose interpretation, was developed by Sir Roger Penrose, a respected and at times controversial physicist. Penrose theorizes that the collapse of large objects from their superposition is caused by gravity. Electrons, atoms, and molecules are so small that their gravity, and the energy needed to keep them in two places at once indefinitely, is insignificant.
Penrose and other physicists are still working on experiments to prove, disprove or refine the Penrose interpretation. But, let’s suppose for a moment that gravity is a factor in the collapse of a superposition, could that help to explain the phenomena of seeing someone’s double?
On June 22, 1893, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon walked through the drawing room of his family home in London, looking straight ahead, without exchanging a word to anyone at the party being given by his wife. What made his appearance quite strange was that he was supposed to be on a ship off the coast of Syria. His wife later discovered that he had gone down with his ship, the HMS Victoria, that very same night.
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