Forget about the threat that mankind poses to the Earth: our very ability to study the heavens may have shortened the inferred lifetime of the cosmos. Over the past few years, cosmologists have taken this powerful theory of what happens at the level of subatomic particles and tried to extend it to understand the universe, since it began in the subatomic realm during the Big Bang. But there is an odd feature of the theory that philosophers and scientists still argue about. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that quantum systems can exist in many different physical configurations at the same time. By observing the system, however, we may pick out one single ‘quantum state’, and therefore force the system to change its configuration.
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