An Introduction To Quantum Mechanics

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File:Schroedingers cat film.svg by Christian Schirm is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

“File:Schroedingers cat film.svg” by Christian Schirm is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

For quite some time, scientists have been trying to explain the world of physics and were pleased with the results they had found, giving themselves a reason to discover more. However, over the course of a few years, there have been a few occasions where indefinable events have happened during experiments, and they didn’t seem to follow the classical laws of physics. Physicists had been ignoring these occurrences, but more and more of these circumstances were happening, causing many scientists to begin investigating for the reasons. Soon enough, they had made a new branch of physics: quantum mechanics.

What is Quantum Mechanics?

Quantum mechanics is the description of how types of energy behave at atomic and subatomic levels. Like classical mechanics, physicists created multiple equations and theories to make sense of these odd behaviors. However, the similarities between the two mechanics end there. While quantum mechanics deals with smaller particles, classical mechanics deals with larger ones. For example, Newton’s laws of motion, are laws about the movement of everyday objects. In classical mechanics, you can tell exactly where an object will be if you throw it. On the other hand, in quantum mechanics, you can only predict where an object will be with probabilities. This is a major point in quantum mechanics – indeterminacy.

Schrödinger’s Cat

In the year of 1935, an Austrian physicist by the name of Erwin Schrödinger made a virtual experiment in the hopes of trying to figure out the confusion of the quantum world. This experiment was not performed in reality, but an imaginary analysis to be thought out in one’s head.

There are many versions of this same analogy, but the original includes a radioactive substance and a cat in a box: A scientist puts a cat in a box, along with a radioactive substance that has a 50% chance of decaying and a 50% chance of staying as it is. If this substance decays, it causes a device to crash, making a poisonous gas go off that will kill the cat if it breathes it. The scientist is not sure whether or not the substance decayed until the next hour when they open the box and takes a sample of the air. Before that moment, the atom is in a superposition, the position of being decayed and not. The same goes for the cat, which is in the state of being both dead and alive at the same time.

This experiment was used to explain the probability in the quantum world. When an atom is predicted to be in a few areas, the atom is in a ghostly state of being in all of those places waiting to be seen and calculated at the point that it is in. In fact, pure nature doesn’t know where the atom is before that. This scared many of the physicists and made them tell themselves that this incredulous finding wasn’t true. They didn’t want to think that nature didn’t know what was going on in its own world. “God does not play dice,” Albert Einstein had said, not wanting to believe this theory.

Max Planck and the start of Quantum Mechanics

It all started with Max Planck, a German theoretical physicist, in the year 1900. Planck was attempting to create a formula to describe the intensity of light with the wavelength of a blackbody when it was heated. A blackbody is an object or surface that will absorb and discharge radiant energy when in contact. This formula was successful and came accurate with the experiment. However, to arrive at this conclusion, Planck had to assume that the energy could not be absorbed nor discharged constantly like expected, but instead, in small portions or packages called quanta. The formula was E = h*v, the E standing for the energy of a single quantum, the h standing for Planck’s constant(6.626176 x 10-34 joule-seconds), and the v stands for the frequency of light. This was the start of the quantum theory.

How is Quantum Mechanics Beneficial?

Many people wonder why scientists study such complicated things when we already know about most of the world around us. What they don’t know is that without quantum mechanics people would be missing out on lasers, MRIs, and several other gadgets. Quantum mechanics gives us a newfound view of how some particles of energy move right through something and sometimes they don’t which is applied to several tools in our life. Another major connection quantum mechanics has to technology is quantum computers, computers that could operate exceedingly faster compared to regular computers because their qubits(a quantum computer’s form of data) can evaluate several states of data at once, unlike average computers.

Conclusion

It’s amazing how different the quantum world can be, with its probability and theories. Scientists now are still attempting to solve the paradox of quantum physics, which may lead to better technology and teleportation in the future. There is so much more to quantum mechanics, more theories and ideas that are not covered in this article – I hope reading this becomes a starting point for you on a journey to many more quantum mechanics articles out there. After all, the plethora of articles, books, and videos are only a search away!

RELATED WEBSITES:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/08/13/what-has-quantum-mechanics-ever-done-for-us/?sh=35fe05e04046

https://www.britannica.com/science/quantum-mechanics-physics

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/everyday-quantum-physics/

https://youtu.be/UjaAxUO6-Uw

https://youtu.be/Usu9xZfabPM