I found this question on Quora.
It included this explainer: “To clarify, I mean ideas such as Schrodinger’s Cat. I don’t know the consensus on the idea.”
Here’s my answer:
Experiments in quantum physics consistently show that a quantum particle can be put into two conflicting states at once, such as spinning and not-spinning at the same time.
I’m a lay person, so I only have this lay explanation.
That particle is all fine and dandy in two states at once. That is, until you bring in equipment to observe it. Observing a quantum particle means making it interact with other objects.
Imagine you want to find out if a piece of metal on the ground is magnetic. Your only way to find out is to put a magnet near it. When you do that, you disturb the piece of metal.
Quantum particles are easily disturbed. We notice that when they are disturbed by our observational equipment, they do not stay in the two conflicting states at once. Once we observe them, we mess them up and we only see them either spinning or not spinning.
Schrödinger’s cat thought-experiment proposed that one of these effects could be used to bring a cat into two conflicting states as well, dead and alive. He thought that was ridiculous and that his thought-experiment proved that particles do not work that way.
There are a few different schools of thought about what the thought-experiment really implies.
The Copenhagen interpretation says that a particle collapses into one state when someone measures it. This is the current most popular opinion among physicists.
However, it doesn’t give an explanation of how the particle “chooses” which state to collapse into. It doesn’t explain why a particle that is currently spinning and not-spinning would collapse into the spinning state instead of the not-spinning state, for example.
There are several other popular interpretations. The Many Worlds interpretation is most convincing to me.
So, it is not the case that science regards two conflicting statements as true until observed. Instead, science has real evidence that a particle can be in two conflicting states at once. When we observe the particle directly, our interference causes it to appear in only one of those states.
I’d appreciate any corrections.