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Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics energy waves and particles

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What is CERN?

While many people associate CERN with the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), there are many more contributions and research tools used at CERN, which have led to such things as the observation of the Higgs Boson, the development of the World Wide Web, and the creation of...

What is String Theory?

Physics has a problem. You see, there is Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and then there is Quantum Mechanics. These two views don’t really work and play well together. Without getting overly and densely theoretical, it is necessary to understand that...

We Are Eternal

Since human beings became sentient, it seems we have wondered about life, its purpose, what it means, and why we are here.  Are we here only for a while and then gone, or can we say that we are eternal, in some form?  With the advent of villages, and the cessation of...

Metaphysics and Physics

Nothing seems more disparate than science and spirituality.  In the West, we are conditioned by thought norms and culture to see these two entities as separate and unmitigatedly pitted against one another, never really meeting or crossing paths.  Scientists are often...

Light, Time and Aging

Many concepts in quantum physics speak to the effects of light, time, and how those might affect our idea of time and aging.  If one simply looks at the tenets of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, it would seem that light and its speed would seem to either slow down or...

What is Quantum Physics?

Quantum physics, also known as quantum mechanics, is essentially the science of really, REALLY small things. This is the branch of physics that sets out to explain how things work at the most basic level. This means that quantum physics sets out to understand the particles – at the tiniest scale – that make up all matter, and how these particles behave and interact with other particles and forces.

Sounds Simple?

Quantum Physics is incredibly complex. For a start, there is no one quantum theory that quantum physicists deal with. Instead, there are a number of overlapping and interrelated theories. Our understanding of what happens on a quantum level can only happen when we consider other branches of physics which tell us how and why things behave as they do.

Matter and Energy

Quantum Physics aims to understand matter and energy. At the center of this understanding is the discovery that energy can be divided into individual packets that are known as quanta. The word ‘quantum’ comes from the same Latin that we get words like quantity, and it translates as ‘how much’ or ‘how great’. This discovery led to an understanding that matter or particles can behave as waves, and waves can behave as matter or particles.

On the macroscopic level, atoms and electrons behave very differently to how we expect them to if we look at them using our knowledge of physics. We expect in everyday life, and in classical physics, that on a fundamental level a thing exists in the place where it is. When we use quantum physics, it becomes apparent that things are not necessarily where, or when, you might expect. Instead, we are dealing with probabilities and likelihoods. When you are dealing with quantum mechanics, it can feel like nothing is certain anymore! Accepting that how things work on a quantum scale is not necessarily how things work on a larger scale is one of the hurdles that every scientist must clear before they begin to understand the discoveries in quantum physics that have changed how we see the universe.

harnessing scalar light made possible by understanding quantum physics

How did Quantum Physics Begin?

While it may seem like quantum physics is a very recent scientific development, it can be dated back to the year 1900 when Max Planck presented his findings and first suggested quantum theory. Planck’s theory was that energy was made up of individual units, just as particle matter is. Before this point, energy was considered to exist as electromagnetic waves. Planck suggested that energy could be considered as quantifiable packets, or ‘quanta’. He won the Nobel Prize for his efforts in 1918, and this was the starting point for a century of many further discoveries.

Wave-Particle Duality

It wasn’t long before it was established that on an atomic and subatomic level, energy and matter behave in the same way and furthermore, they can each behave as though they are made of particles or waves. We call this wave-particle duality.

The Uncertainty Principle

One of the most mind-boggling elements of quantum physics for both the uninitiated and for classical physicists alike, is the Uncertainty Principle. This was the theory of Werner Heisenberg in 1927, and it suggests that it is impossible to measure two inter-related values at the same time.

This is explained by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

One striking aspect of the difference between classical and quantum physics is that whereas classical mechanics presupposes that exact simultaneous values can be assigned to all physical quantities, quantum mechanics denies this possibility, the prime example being the position and momentum of a particle. According to quantum mechanics, the more precisely the position (momentum) of a particle is given, the less precisely can one say what its momentum (position) is. This is (a simplistic and preliminary formulation of) the quantum mechanical uncertainty principle for position and momentum.”

The Copenhagen Interpretation

These discoveries have a major impact on how we think of the nature of reality and has sparked philosophical debate as well as scientific investigation. If the nature of a particle or wave can change when it is observed or measured, or perhaps only exists when it is observed, then what does this say about the nature of reality itself? The Copenhagen Interpretation suggests that there is no such thing as objective reality, instead, reality changes depending on how it is observed. An extension of this is that when we cannot be sure whether something is wave, particle or other, it actually exists in all states at the same time. We can only be sure when we observe it. This idea is best expressed through the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat; a cat is placed in a box, with a vial of cyanide. Until we actually look to confirm whether the cat is alive or dead, the cat must be assumed to be both alive and dead at the same time.

The Multiverse Theory

This theory suggests that these objects which are in unknown states (unobserved), actually exist in multiple universes in different states. These parallel universes each contain this particular object in a different state. These universes may interact with one another, as quantum particles appear to have the ability to affect one other despite being apart and not travelling through the distance between, This happens instantly, and is an as-yet not fully understood phenomenon that is known as quantum entanglement.

The Future of Quantum Physics

There are many things that have been explained by quantum physics, and many quantum theories that have been proven through experiments. However, there are also many things that quantum theory has yet to explain. One of these is gravity, which doesn’t fit with quantum theory and is still understood through the general theory of relativity. Another mystery that quantum theory does not explain is dark energy and dark matter; scientists still do not understand the nature of these, despite them making up the vast majority of the universe as we know it.

What is for sure, is that quantum physics will continue to develop and seek to explain the mysteries of not only the visible but the invisible, from the tiniest of particles to the nature of reality itself.

What is CERN?

What is CERN?

While many people associate CERN with the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), there are many more contributions and research tools used at CERN, which have led to such things as the observation of the Higgs Boson, the development of the World Wide Web, and the creation of...

What is String Theory?

What is String Theory?

Physics has a problem. You see, there is Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and then there is Quantum Mechanics. These two views don’t really work and play well together. Without getting overly and densely theoretical, it is necessary to understand that...

We Are Eternal

We Are Eternal

Since human beings became sentient, it seems we have wondered about life, its purpose, what it means, and why we are here.  Are we here only for a while and then gone, or can we say that we are eternal, in some form?  With the advent of villages, and the cessation of...

Metaphysics and Physics

Metaphysics and Physics

Nothing seems more disparate than science and spirituality.  In the West, we are conditioned by thought norms and culture to see these two entities as separate and unmitigatedly pitted against one another, never really meeting or crossing paths.  Scientists are often...

Light, Time and Aging

Light, Time and Aging

Many concepts in quantum physics speak to the effects of light, time, and how those might affect our idea of time and aging.  If one simply looks at the tenets of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, it would seem that light and its speed would seem to either slow down or...

Schrodinger’s Cat Explained

Schrodinger’s Cat Explained

One of the many ways that we work out problems is using a type of reasoning called “thought experiments.”  Whether we realize it or not, this isn’t just a technique of logic employed by scientists and other academicians.  If you have ever found yourself in a...

Black Holes

Black Holes

Ask most any scientist or student of science and they’ll tell you that the most strange and perhaps most violently destructive entity in the universe, Black Holes.  That said, trying to divorce black holes and quantum physics is problematic because so much of what is...

Light and Its Relationship to Time

Light and Its Relationship to Time

Perception Of TimeUsually, when we think of subjects like light and time and light and its relationship to time, if we think of them together at all, they seem disparate.  Time we associate with something on a clock face or as something that measures now to another...

The Double Slit Experiment

The Double Slit Experiment

Physics struggles to provide explanations for some of the strangest phenomena ever discovered.  Some would argue that an understanding of physics means that one essentially understands the fundamentals of life, itself.  Since the subjects that physics explores...

What Is Quantum Entanglement?

What Is Quantum Entanglement?

Quantum entanglement happens when a pair or group of particles is generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others, including when...