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quantum mechanics:   the branch of mechanics that deals with the mathematical description of the motion and interaction of subatomic particles, incorporating the concepts of quantization of energy, wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and the correspondence principle (as quoted from Google).
It surprised me to turn on the TV and learn about quantum mechanics.  I was tired and hadn’t been sleeping well.  It was Wednesday, in late October, so TV seemed the way to relax and gently woo myself to sleep.  I am not sure, then, what I really saw.
            It was the mathematical description that sparked my interest, at least at first.  Zero to Zero.  Does that mean Zero equals Zero?  Or is it Zero cancels out Zero?  I admit I was already feeling lost but I decided to continue watching. 
            Wait, something new is entering the field, a subatomic particle, I believe.  It’s coming from one place and headed to another, very fast, and, depending on the response of the crowd watching, it is either negative or positive.  Maybe the wave the crowd is performing is another explanation.  No, I think it is best to look at this explanation with a particular (is that particle?) theory.  Well, there are always those in the crowd that refuse to complete a wave.  They must adhere to the second theory.  Either way, be it particle or wave, the theory does not always explain how to declare the particle in or out. 
            Then there are the ones holding on to Planck’s constant, which is literally a plank!  The smallest bit of radiation emitted seemed to be the reason why this plank did or did not connect with that particle being hurled toward the one holding the ‘plank’.
            Sometimes the velocity of the particle made it incredibly hard to see, when passing close to the one with the ‘plank’.  And often I felt as if this speed made it appear to be in two places at once, at least as far as my eyes can tell.  I would see it as right on.  And the one with the mask and uniform, who is standing behind the one with the ‘plank’, invariably he would see it as nowhere near this position.  And, no matter how hard I concentrate on this, I cannot for the life of me see whether the particle is inside or outside the designated field of this one person’s observation. He just seems to be able to feel whether it is inside that arbitrary designation, and we all have to accept this.
            Wait, the narrator has thrown in another factor, that position and momentum cannot be precisely determined at the same time!  Unfortunately, that is what those holding the ‘plank’ are trying to do!  As we watch, the one with the ‘plank’ tries to connect with the particle, sometimes knocking the particle off to the side, sometimes making the particle drop into a place where nothing will change, not the mathematical description or the others out in the field.  Only the one with the ‘plank’ is expected to move away and let another in.
            And the one with the ‘plank’, he changes his velocity depending on whether he connects with that hurtling particle.  If he connects with the particle, he sometimes tries as hard as he can to make it to one of those indicators out in the field of the experiment.  There are four of those indicators, which must have an extreme amount of mass and attraction because all the participants are either trying to reach them or trying to prevent others from reaching said indicators.
            Perhaps observation is the key factor here, for it is said that observation does have an effect on what will occur next.  Maybe if we all close our eyes, instead of watching the ones with the ‘plank’, then the position will be ascertained precisely at the right time.  Thus, using the projected momentum, the one with the ‘plank’ will be able to connect with our particle thus having the right amount of speed and umph to leave the parameters of this experiment.
            Uh-oh.  Now the narrator is saying that our particle will be impacted by a Higgs Boson particle, which was only recently discovered in this particular park where the experiment is being staged.  Prior to now, many hypothesized that this H-B particle explained why two other participants involved in this experiment would let our particle fall right between them.  And, once the particle came in contact with the large field in this experiment, the particle would take on weight, presumed to come from the Higgs Boson particles hiding in the field.  Then the ones trying to continue the experiment, and, perhaps change the mathematical description, would try to move our particle (though not the H-B) and it is very heavy.  They often find that it is difficult to transfer it back to the beginning of this whole experiment.  At least, accurately.
            And, if all of this is not confusing enough, I begin to correspondingly see that this will happen all over again, with a change in positions of some of the participants, when the arbitrary number ‘3’ is reached.  This ‘3’ seems to limit the actions of both particles and participants.   I understand that, in other experiments and in other fields, this number remains the constant, and the changes that occur will always show much respect for the number ‘3’.  Eventually, even the number ‘3’ is overtaken by the number ‘9’ unless the mathematical description is even on both sides of the equation.  When that happens, all bets are off and the magical number, telling the end of the experiment, could be ‘10’, ‘11’, ‘12’ or even higher.  Wow, I could keep going with these numbers until ‘33’, the longest time frame ever experienced in the experiment. 
And, I go to sleep thinking that, perhaps, it will happen again tomorrow night.
            I love baseball.

About the Author: 
Linda is a writer living in rural vermont and learning about quantum mechanics

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Quantum Theories

U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

O is for ... Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

M is for ... Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

H is for ... Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

R is for ... Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

G is for ... Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

A is for ... Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

P is for ... Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

S is for ... Superposition

Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.

S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

T is for ... Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

E is for ... Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

I is for ... Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

L is for ... Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

H is for ... Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

C is for ... Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

A is for ... Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

T is for ... Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

A is for ... Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

U is for ... Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

D is for ... Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

I is for ... Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

W is for ... Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

K is for ... Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

J is for ... Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics.

B is for ... Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

Q is for ... Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

P is for ... Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

D is for ... Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

G is for ... Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

W is for ... Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

X is for ... X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

R is for ... Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

Q is for ... Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

N is for ... Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

R is for ... Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

C is for ... Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

V is for ... Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

F is for ... Free Will

Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.