Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental branch of physics which deals with physical phenomena at nanoscopic scales. At the turn of the 20th century we figured out classical mechanics isn't correct. Physicists trying to understand the behavior of matter at microscopic levels concluded that the rules would have to be overturned, and replaced with something else. Enter quantum mechanics, arguably the greatest triumph of human intelligence and imagination in all of history. 

Yet, for nearly a century, “reality” has been a murky concept. The laws of quantum physics seem to suggest that particles spend much of their time in a ghostly state, lacking even basic properties such as a definite location and instead existing everywhere and nowhere at once. Only when a particle is measured does it suddenly materialize, appearing to pick its position as if by a roll of the dice. Reference 

Quantum mechanics is downright weird. Scientists interpret quantum mechanics to mean that a tiny piece of material like a photon or electron is both a particle and a wave. It can be either, depending on how one looks at it or what kind of an experiment one is doing. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that photons and electrons are neither a particle or a wave -- they're undefined up until the very moment someone looks at them or performs an experiment, thus forcing them to be either a particle or a wave. Reference 


Honorable Mention: Quabbala (also Cabbala or Kabbala) 

Tomorrow: R is for Reincarnation 

Wednesday: S is for Signs and Symbols

Question: Can you explain quantum mechanics? If you can, you;re first in line for the Noble Peace Prize for Physics.