So a while back I got kinda annoyed at every movie or TV show using “buzz words” from science. Words that the creators didn’t seem to understand of be using correctly. Words that are thrown in cause they are popular or sound cool. The first word on the list is quantum. Superscripts at the end will give more science tidbits on this topic
Definition – The smallest amount of a physical quantity that can exist independently, especially a discrete quantity of electromagnetic radiation.
Quantum mechanics is actually the study of how things work on the smallest of scales and how things can act as both a particle and a wave. For example how photons of light act as both a particle and a wave as demonstrated by Young’s Double Slit Experiment. What happens here is when the light goes through both slits it starts to act as a wave on the other side, and the two waves interfere with each other in both a constructive and destructive manner. Which means that instead of getting two lines on the other side you instead get ten or twenty. Outside of this experiment we know that light doesn’t act as a wave because we can’t see around corners the same way we can here around them¹.
As another point we also have the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Which isn’t entirely to do with Quantum Mechanics but it shows up a lot. The basics of it states that you can’t know where something is and where it is going at the same time. This is because in trying to observe where something like an electron is you have to influence that electron and change where it is going, or what it was doing. When it comes to electrons most of the time they exist as a wave.²
So “Quantum Leap” a story about a person who travels through time into other peoples bodies in order to fix their lives. However in actuality it means something a long the line of “A teeny tiny jump that is probably as small as the inherent vibration of a table”. I hope you have enjoyed the read. Now for some tidbits.
- If you give and atom a certain amount of energy it’ll “excite” an electron causing it to move to a higher state, when it comes down form this state it releases energy in the form of a packet of light. If this single Photon is used in the double slit experiment it’ll give the same result. Which means that the one photon of light goes through both slits and interferes with itself in order to create the light pattern on the other end. How does this happen? I don’t know.
- Albert Einstein hated quantum mechanics especially the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Believing that classical physics should be able to solve for the problems that were observed on that scale. He hated it enough that he spent much of his time trying to disprove quantum mechanics when the rest of the scientific community had already accepted it as fact.