It’s one of the most confusing branches of science out there because part of the theories that come out of it suggests that there might not be a branch there at all. Quantum Physics emerged from discoveries in the early twentieth century that all the conclusions made in the previous century about a stable, sensible scientific explanation for all the matter and energy in the universe were fundamentally wrong.
Not surprisingly, it took a rather long time for these changes to be seen not only in the scientific community but the world at large. At the forefront were Niels Bohr (who plunged deeper and deeper into the heart of the atom to find there wasn’t much there but potential) and good ol’ Albert Einstein (who found fundamental relationships between the very building blocks of the universe), who both earned Nobel Prizes for their work.
However, Quantum Physics should not remain as an abstract notion that belongs in science class. The discoveries that came out of it helped shaped the modern world we live in today, from how we prepare our food with microwaves, to how we treat patients for disease from cancer to the Coronavirus, to how we connect to everyone else in the world, whether saying hello to an old friend in an instant or scrolling through our phones to read some Chelsea escort reviews online. With the aptly named quantum computing, you can be sure that there is going to be more to come from this exciting field.
Read on to get just a taste of what Quantum Physics has done for you!
The Uncertainty Principle
Science has always been about finding the correct explanation for why something in the natural world happened. Finding out why the sun ‘set’ (it doesn’t, by the way, we spin around it) or why an apple falls off a tree towards the ground required many great minds slowly sharing their ideas before coming to a conclusion that could be repeatedly tested to make sure it was accurate.
Well, Werner Heisenberg realized that all we know is a lot fuzzier than we ever could have hoped. While atoms are the tiny bits of matter that make up everything in the universe, it was believed that studying them (how they moved and arranged themselves) would help unlock every possible secret of the universe.
But Heisenberg realized that simply trying to study and measure these small bits of matter affected how they moved around, which affected the overall results of any sort of experimentation. Specifically, the more certain you could be of where an atom was, the less certain you could be of how it was moving, and if you could be more certain of how it was moving, you were less certain of what its position might be at any moment.
This may not sound like much, but suddenly the position of everything in the universe became much more unsteady. While the famous example that Heisenberg gave was not knowing if there was a living or dead cat in a box where there was a fifty-fifty chance of poison being released in it, people are always looking for new opportunities to explain the Uncertainty Principle.
Because of this, there is a non-zero chance that at any moment, all the atoms in your body can rearrange themselves into a completely different object like a chair (because uncertainty is at the heart of what we know about matter and energy).
Now likelihood and odds obviously don’t sound very scientific, but these calculations are not only very, very reliable – tests to prove the validity of Quantum Physics theories are the most dependable in science – but the likelihood of wildly uncertain things happening (like you becoming a chair) are very, very low, where even winning the lotto is more plausible.
Everyday Quantum Physics
Some of the most important discoveries of the Twentieth Century involve Quantum Physics research in some way. The laser is a good example (everyone forgets that laser is an acronym for ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), as this phenomenon is dependent on the Quantum Physics proclamation that electrons take on discrete positions in orbits around the atom’s nucleus (albeit briefly).
While laser beams were originally something to be feared (since it could cut through many soils material effortlessly), it has been used in computer disc drives, barcode scanners, DNA sequencing, and various medical procedures.
Even more important was the study of semiconductor, which is a material that can hold an electric current, such as silicon, gallium, and other elements on the periodic table. While research in this field pre-dated Quantum Physics when the latter developed the transistor and integrated circuit in the mid-twentieth century, the ability to program many, many electrical switches on an incredibly small scale created the modern computer chips that powers so much in the modern world today.
Going forward, Quantum Physics is going to help cybersecurity and computing in general. For the former, quantum cryptography ensures that when information is sent from person A to person B, the data will be received in the exact same form in which it was sent.
If person C tried to nefariously manipulate or examine the data (perhaps it might be a password), just doing this action will change the nature of the data itself, corrupting it. This is exactly what the Uncertainty Principle was referring to when it implied that by measuring something, you change its properties.
Quantum computing is also going to be something that holds tremendous value because whereas in the past there were only two positions a transistor on a chip could be in (say, 0 or 1), there are exponentially more positions you can have when dealing with quantum states.
This means that while technology is getting to the point where we can no longer make ‘old fashioned’ computer chips any more powerful (we are literally running out of room on them to put more and more transistor switches), quantum computing can step in and do so much more.