what is superposition explained with an analogy for my literary oriented brain to make sense of?


what is superposition explained with an analogy for my literary oriented brain to make sense of?

In: Physics

Think about a flipped coin. While it is flipping in the air, it is neither heads nor tails. It isn’t heads or tails until it lands, at which point it is absolutely one, but not the other.

Imagine a bunch of ghosts that cannot bump into each other. If they move to the same position, they just pass through each other. This allows all of them to occupy the same position. That’s super-position.

So now imagine you are planning out a traffic system for ghosts. You now only need to concern about how it get from place to place. There are no needs to worry about intersections, no needs to plan out how multiple ghosts will move. If you make sure that 1 ghost can go from A to B, then no matter what the other ghosts do, this ghost will be able to make it.

So let’s say you are writing a book.

You have several ideas for what could happen in the next chapter, but you’re not fully sold on which to pick.

So you start to sketch out a few different versions of that chapter. You don’t write them fully, but you put in enough to know what is going on.

Now you can move on to the chapter after that, and everything is fine, the book is back on track (and you’ll go back to fix that one chapter later). But it turns out you aren’t careful enough when writing the rest of the book, and the final version of the next chapter ends up relying on bits from all the different versions of the one awkward chapter.

So the next chapter only makes sense if *all the versions* of the previous chapter are true – maybe with different weight given to different versions – *even if the versions contradict each other*.

The rest of the book is fine; one version, all put together. The first part of the book is fine, again, just one version. But for this middle bit it only works if you have several versions of the chapter superimposed on each other; all being (partly) true.


The physics is a little more complex (maths pun intended), as you can get weird situations where if you include a particular plot point in a couple of different versions of the superposed chapter, they can cancel out.

I’m going to go out on a limb and try a literary approach.

Choose your own adventure books.

Several outcomes exist, any one of which could be the ending. They’re all the ending. Until you read it and follow a certain path and discover one ending. Before that the ending was a super position of all the endings.

I went with CYOA because if it’s just a book you haven’t read and don’t know the ending to, there’s still only one way it can end and other “possible” endings you might come up with as you read were never actually possible because this book only has one ending.

A superposition is like a homonym. If a kid comes up to you ask how you define xxxx (a homonym) you can’t give them a single meaning right? The best you can do is give them all the definitions because without context you can’t distinguish it’s meaning. It’s only with context that you can definitively assign a single meaning and likewise, know what meaning it is not.