Superposition refers to the principle that when we don’t know the state of an object, it is in all possible states. So, if we put an ice cube in a cooler and wait 20 minutes, we don’t know if the ice cube is still frozen, partially melted or a puddle. It is only when we look inside the cooler and check the cube that it becomes one thing. Until then, it could be – it is – all of the iterations of an ice cube.
Sometimes this phenomenon is referred to as quantum indeterminacy or observer’s paradox. Regardless of what you call it, in a nutshell it means observing something influences our observation of it. And, here’s the kicker, our observation limits that thing or person or world.
But it only takes one person’s different perspective to put all of the possibilities back into play. MLK saw the possibility of communities without the barriers of race or creed. Marie Curie believed science and scientific discovery could be as open for women as they were for men. Rachel Carson trusted we could create a world where stewardship of our environment was as valuable as mining its resources. Steve Jobs saw the possibility of global interconnectivity well before he inspired all of those i-things. Beyonce saw how she could make lemonade out of lemons. (Couldn’t resist.)
It is only when we observe the object that it becomes one thing. We can re-view the object, those around us, our world, and even ourselves so that scarcity and limitation are exchanged for hope and potential. We can revisit whatever parts of our world or ourselves we have limited and see all of what can be. Then we can allow any and all of the gorgeous, countless possibilities we choose to unfold.
- Cukor-Avila, P. (2000). Revisiting the observer's paradox. American Speech 75(3), 253-254.
- Friedman, J.R., Patel, V., Chen, W., Tolpygo, S.K., & Lukens, J.E. (2000). Quantum superposition of distinct macroscopic states. Nature, 406, 43 – 46. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v406/n6791/full/406043a0.html
- Lowe, E. J. (1994). Vague identity and quantum indeterminacy. Analysis, 54(2), 110-114.