Hi, please excuse what is probably a very basic question. I'm abit confused about some of the things I've read about quantum mechanics (can you blame me?). The main thing I'm trying to understand is the reality of duality and superposition. I've heard it said that these concepts are merely mathematical models that provide a (please excuse my non-technical terms) probability map of where a single point particle is. The notion being that, until observed the particle could be anywhere, and its actual position is unknown. This 'probability map' gives us an idea of where it is likely to be. At this point the mathematical model would treat the particle as being in many places at once (super-position) but in actuality it is only really in one place.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

This seems to contradict what I have been told that if the particle is left unobserved, its location remaining unknown, and is allowed to carry on propagating through an enclosed ('two slit') system it displays the physical property of superposition (and duality) in the form of an interference pattern. The fact that the single point particle has behaved like a wave and interfered with itself indicates that it did in-fact exist in superposition and pass through both slits simultaneously in the from of a wave; how else could it create the wave-like interference pattern?

I have read that the areas of high probability within a wave-function (i believe to be called the absolute square of the wave) it not the probability of the particlebeingin that place but is actually the probability of youfindingit there (a very subtle yet crucial difference) and it dose in fact exist in superposition... at this point it would make sense to say that this is merely a mathematical model describing something imaginary, and in reality the particle of course only exists in one place... Except that if the particle is allowed to pass through the two slit experiment it is shown to be physically in a super-position state (or have the properties of a wave).

So my question is this... Are super-position and duality real physical propertys of the microscopic world? Or are they just the conceptual representation in a mathematical model?

Please note I'm not a professional physicist (in case that isn't obvious) and struggle to understand some of the mathematics involved so an explanation avoiding maths would be appreciated. Also, I think I may have blurred the distinction between super-position and duality in my question but hopefully the Q is still valid.

Thanks,

Tom

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# Super-position / Duality Physically Real?

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