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Superposition experiment question?

  1. Jan 9, 2012 #1
    I was reading about how scientists have been able to perform experiments and successfully managed to get a beryllium atom into a superposed state whereby the atom had a 50/50 change of having its spin as either up or down.

    But how can they tell that its in a superposition as surely the act of measuring the atoms state would destroy the superposition and cause it to take 1 form or the other?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2012 #2

    Ken G

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    Gold Member

    The telltale sign of superposition is being able to get interference between the two possibilities in some outcome. The classic example is the two-slit interference pattern, where the particles are described as being in a superposition of going through both slits.
  4. Jan 9, 2012 #3
    So they never observe (not sure what the proper word should be) the superposition itself, they only see the effects of the superpostion?
  5. Jan 9, 2012 #4
    You cant directly observe superposition thats the mystery and why FAPP (for all practical purposes) you dont need to inquire about directly observing it, because the model fits the experimental outcomes.
  6. Jan 9, 2012 #5
    When experiments are done, and you solve the Schrodinger equation for the evolution of the system you're interested in, along the way do the various probabilities for certain states actualising get verified (I know some interactions/forces etc can change the probabilities as the system evolves).
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