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Basic Explanation of Quantum Physics

 
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ngolden



Joined: 23 Sep 2015
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:08 am    Post subject: Basic Explanation of Quantum Physics Reply with quote

For anyone interested - this is a very basic explanation of Quantum Physics (written by my son when he was in eleventh grade)

Quantum Physics is one of the most interesting and complex branches of science in the natural world. When most people hear the word “Quantum,” images of scientists and laboratories flood their minds. This makes Quantum Physics an undesirable topic to learn about, simply because of its complexity. Even though it is true than it is a complicated topic, Quantum Physics is extremely rewarding to understand, especially if one enjoys learning and/or sounding smart to their friends. This article will lay out the foundation of Quantum Physics in an easy to understand manner, covering Quantum Theories such as Particle-Wave Duality, the Copenhagen Interpretation, and Schrodinger’s cat. Before moving forward, there is an important pretext that must be understood. Quantum Physics relates to the microscopic world, with atoms and Quantum Particles. Most of these theories and laws do not apply to the macroscopic world, the one we can see. That world is governed by Classical Physics.
The basis of all of Quantum Physics is found in what is called Particle-Wave Duality. There are two types of existences in the world: Particles and Waves. Particles are mass, physical objects, essentially atoms that make up physical existence. Waves are intangible wavelengths, such as light or radiation. Particle-Wave Duality is a theory that suggests that Waves have properties of Particles, and vice-versa. For example, if you shine a beam of light on a physical object, that light will transfer momentum to the object (a miniscule amount, one that would take billions of years to notice on a macroscopic level). Normally Waves can’t carry momentum since they do not have mass, but because of Particle-Wave Duality, they can. All of Quantum Physics is an attempt to define just what properties carry over from Waves to Particles, as some bizarre things happen on the Quantum level that contradict Classical Physics.
The next key to Quantum Physics is Wave Functions. Wave Functions are essentially measurements of any physical object in the universe. Everything has a Wave Function, from this keyboard to you, the reader. It “determines all the observable properties of [an] object” (Orzel 50). Every particle with a Wave Function has what are called allowed states, which are the potential physical states it can be in. For example, a carbon atom can be radioactive or not radioactive. Each Wave Function describes the probability of a particle’s allowed states. This then brings up the problem with Quantum Physics, that when measuring a Wave Function only probabilities are given, not absolutes.
There are many explanations of Quantum Physics out there, called interpretations. The most standard of these is the Copenhagen Interpretation. While no standard definition of it exists, this interpretation is one of the most accepted by Physicists today. Essentially, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, when a particle’s state is not measured, then it is in all states at the same time. This may seem confusing, but remember that this is not Classical Physics. Here is an example: say I have a carbon atom. I am not sure if this atom is radioactive or not, therefore, it is both radioactive and not radioactive. It isn’t until I measure the atom’s potential radioactivity that the Wave Function collapses into one of the two states.
A large controversy in Quantum Physics is whether or not this applies to the macroscopic world or not. Schrodinger’s Cat, a famous thought experiment, was formulated for this argument. Here is how it goes: say you have a cat in a sealed box with a vial of poison. The vial is connected to a carbon atom, designed to open and kill the cat if the carbon atom becomes radioactive. If I, the observer, do not know the state of the atom, then according to the Copenhagen Interpretation it is in both states at the same time. The idea follows that the cat is both alive and dead at the same time, until I open the box and cause the Wave Function to collapse. A lot of physicists don’t agree with this experiment, but it is a different view on reality. It’s like the old axiom “If a tree falls in the forest with no one around, did it really fall?” According to this theory, it did fall and it didn’t fall until it was observed.
These are the basics of Quantum Physics, but I will present one more theory out of interest: The Many-Worlds Interpretation. While only accepted by a minority of physicists, this theory has taken hold of the imaginations of science fiction writers and pop culture for years. Basically, this interpretation says that every time there is a probability between multiple states, both states happen just like in the Copenhagen Interpretation except they split off into two separate realities instead of remaining contained in one. This creates an infinite amount of alternate realities, or universes, where each one has at least one small thing different than another. (If this theory were true, there is no way the universes could communicate with each other). While an interesting concept, it doesn’t hold up well to close scientific scrutiny.
Quantum Physics is a fascinating subject. Here we have only covered some of the basics of the topic, hopefully in an easy to comprehend manner. There is much more to the world than meets the eye, and an understanding of these divergences from the laws of Classical Physics is, while not essential to existence, a very good thing to have and interesting one to contemplate. And who knows, if you don’t fully understand it, then maybe that means that you get it and you don’t at the same time. Now that’s something to think about.
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phillip j why



Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tree fell....you know it fell.....I know it fell...the tree knows it fell.

The tree fell.
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ngolden



Joined: 23 Sep 2015
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:38 am    Post subject: The Big Question Reply with quote

A man is alone in the forest
With no woman to hear him
Is he still wrong? Laughing
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phillip j why



Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A tree falls in a forest.
No one is around to hear it.
The woman blames the man for it anyway.
The woman is also deaf.
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ngolden



Joined: 23 Sep 2015
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A tree falls in the forest.
It is on the endangered trees list.
The man argues that he was out for a drive and wasn't present when the tree fell, therefore it didn't really fall.
The judge asks, how fast he was driving.
The man replies 70 miles an hour.
The judge rules: you couldn't possible know where you were at.
The man is cited for allowing an endangered tree to fall and has to pay a fine.
The judge is a deaf woman who enjoys reading quantum theory in her spare time.
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chronometery



Joined: 23 Aug 2016
Posts: 8
Location: columbia falls, MT

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A tree falls in a forest.
There is a female tree behind it rolling her tree eyes.
the first tree was male.

Also the tree was late
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ngolden



Joined: 23 Sep 2015
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tree was late because he refused to ask for directions...
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phillip j why



Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tree will NEVER ASK FOR DIRECTIONS!
The tree is too cool for directions.
The tree is to stubborn for directions
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ngolden



Joined: 23 Sep 2015
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which is one of the male tree's more endearing qualities...the female tree actually enjoys all of the wonderful places they have explored while the male tree pretended to know where they were going.

The male tree must not be tamed but appreciated for being a male tree with all his foibles, just as it should be for the female tree. This comes from a female tree who is a little older and a little wiser...
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