A pair of scientists — Dr. Yin of Bejing’s Tsinghua University and Dr. Li of Indiana’s Perdue University — have proposed what they believe to be a plausible method of observing a living organism in two places at once. (source) According to Dr. Li:
Although it has attracted enormous interest, no quantum superposition state of an organism has been realized. So we propose a straightforward approach to put a microbe into a superposition of two spatial states, that is, the microbe will be at two different positions at the same time … It will be the first experiment to put an organism into a quantum superposition state. (source)
While this type of speculation is usually, and automatically, chucked into the ‘fairy tale’ bin, the possibility of one solid piece of matter (anything that has mass) existing in multiple places at once is quite real and has, at the subatomic microscopic (quantum) level, already been demonstrated.
The scientists are suggesting that an experiment conducted at the University of Colorado a couple of years ago could be modified by placing a living organism into a superposition state. A superposition state is when a piece of matter, like an electron, exists as multiple “probabilities” at one time. It’s basically a piece of matter at the subatomic level existing in multiple places at one time (also known as a wave), until it is observed or measured — when that happens it collapses into one state. We know this to be true. You can view a visual demonstration of this quantum “weirdness” here, or read more in an article we wrote about it here. That experiment has been used dozens of times to examine the role of consciousness and its effects on our physical material world. (source) Phys.org reports:
The team suggests the way to make it work would involve cooling a common bacterium down to approximately 10mK to prevent chemical activity from taking place and energy from being exchanged with the environment, then causing the microbe to adhere to the membrane using natural forces. That should be enough, they theorize, to allow for the bacterium to be put into a superposition state along with the oscillating membrane. (source)
So, superposition is indeed possible on the quantum scale, but these are still physical objects that are existing in multiple states or ‘places’ at one time, so why is it not possible to put a larger living organism into a superposition state? Discover Magazine elaborates:
The maddening part of that problem is that the ability of particles to exist in two places at once is not a mere theoretical abstraction. It is a very real aspect of how the subatomic world works, and it has been experimentally confirmed many times over. (source)
Why these same quantum mechanical laws have not been observed on the macroscopic level is yet to be understood, but physicists are working on the problem. For example, in 2012 physicists David Wineland and Serge Haroche received the Nobel Prize in physics for demonstrating how “quantum weirdness” could not only exist at the subatomic micro-world level, but also show itself in the macro-world. At one time, superposition was only thought to exist in the inaccessible quantum world, but not anymore. We know it’s possible, we just haven’t figured out how. We do, however, seem to be getting closer to finding out. (source) (source)
If matter can be observed at the smallest possible levels acting in weird ways (like superposition), it’s logical to assume that larger physical objects could do the same.
It kind of makes you wonder, are there multiple dimensions? Are there parallel worlds and parallel versions of us existing in other, multiple realities? Are we one representation of a larger superposition of ourselves existing as multiple potentials? Is earth one representation, one part of a wave that is existing in multiple states?
Always interesting to ponder.
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