I recently came across a few examples of a "quantum slime" entity, namely from Starfinder and Slime Rancher, that has the ability to make copies of itself via quantum superposition, and then cause any one of those copies to become the "real" one when attacked, effectively teleporting. Would it be possible for any creature to do something like this naturally, without the use of very advanced technology? And how could something like that evolve?

Note: I'm not taking into account the slime characteristics, since there's already a post about it and I fear that it would limit the options.

Edit: I am aware that quantum decoherence would prove to be a major obstacle to this, but is there any way the organism could somehow control this? They would also need to control which "quantum clone" would become the real creature instead of leaving it up to chance. How could an entity control these quantum uncertainties?

Edit 2: What biological mechanism could conceivably do any of this?

  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify then - this is really a question on using 'quantum' to duplicate, as this seems to be able to be done with any creature. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 22:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Slime: "I was at the bootes void somewhere to take a dump before an Earthling looks at me, embarrassed and I collapsed on the spot" $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ If nothing else, this is a fantastic band name. $\endgroup$
    – revereche
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


Handwaving away some of the problems here, one basic one appears insurmountable: Decoherence. This is a process that involves the destruction of the superposition of a quantum system. The loss of quantum coherence is a major experimental problem in, among other things, quantum computing. Minute interactions with the outside environment - heat, light, vibrations - can all destroy the superposition of the qubits. In quantum computers, decoherence happens on timescales of tens of minutes even in a best-case scenario.

Quantum computers can use error-correction codes and high magnetic fields, among other things, to account for and mitigate this decoherence. However, your creature will presumably be living in the natural world, not in a laboratory - and there are plenty of sources of perturbations to cause decoherence. This means your creature likely will be unable to maintain this superposition for any significant amount of time.

The obvious general solution is to isolate the creature from its environment as much as possible. That would ideally involve placing it in an area of near-pure vacuum, surrounded by high magnetic fields and maintained at extremely low temperatures. Regions of outer space seem the natural best spots, outside a high-tech laboratory. Some sort of biological magnetic field could deflect charged particles, and a low density of ambient neutral particles could ensure that the creature stays in a superposition for a longer time. Life in space is tricky, but not impossible.

Unfortunately, an Earth-like environment will lead to decoherence very quickly.

Let's say we handwave that away. We still need a way for the creature to choose which specific state to collapse to. That means it needs to change its wavefunction. In all likelihood, the initial wavefunction is a mixture of a bunch of (let's say linearly independent) states. Assuming that each state is equally likely for the creature to end up in, its wavefunction looks something roughly like $$|\psi\rangle=\frac{1}{\sqrt{N}}|1\rangle+\frac{1}{\sqrt{N}}|2\rangle+\cdots+\frac{1}{\sqrt{N}}|N\rangle$$ where each $|n\rangle$ is a particular state; the particular numbers are just to differentiate them from each other. The factor of $\frac{1}{\sqrt{N}}$ indicates that there is a probability of $\frac{1}{N}$ that the creature will end up in a given state. To make it more likely that the wavefunction will collapse into a particular state, the coefficient of a particular basis state will need to be changed. If the wavefunction can be manipulated somehow, it could be more likely that the creature ends of in a desired state.

At the end of the day, however, quantum mechanics is fundamentally probabilistic. Even if quantum mechanical effects influence this creature, you can't guarantee that it will end up in the state you want - and that might be problematic.

  • $\begingroup$ I understand all of that, but is there any way the creature itself could somehow control its state so that decoherence would be prevented? $\endgroup$
    – Snowshard
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ Note that recent advancements in non-linear optics allows for entanglement of photons at room temperature - which contributes to solving decoherence problem. But the question remains regarding teleportation of molecules... $\endgroup$
    – Nolo
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Aside from the decoherence problem, this also may be based an idea akin to the misconception that quantum computers can try multiple solutions in parallel (as diff. elements of a superposition) and then promote whichever one is successful to "reality"--see this FAQ from a quantum computation expert on how this idea would imply quantum computers could solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time, but that isn't actually true (more on this point in this post) $\endgroup$
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Snowshard (My apologies for not seeing your comment a few months ago!) I think all the creature could potentially do is control the probability of ending up in a particular state, but it would be incapable of controlling (for certain) which state it would fall into. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 18:11

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