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A quantum mechanics primer for everyday living

In an era of massive technological disruption, and the needs of our planet escalating, the average person is encountering more and more science, engineering and data-derived ideas in everyday discussions.

Case in point? Quantum mechanics. Most of us are not physicists, yet the implications of this scientific area of study are woven into our everyday lives at a profound level.

Quantum mechanics is the area of physics that deals with the behaviour of atoms and particles on microscopic scales. Since its inception, the many counter-intuitive aspects and results of quantum mechanics have provoked strong philosophical debates and many interpretations.

While grasping the finer details of this area of science lies beyond most of us, in this video, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the fundamentals in a way that’s understandable even for the lay person.

For starters… in quantum mechanics there is no such thing as absolute certainty when looking for something. This phenomenon is known as Uncertainty Principle and was introduced first in 1927 by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg. Heisenberg realised that one implication of quantum physics is that the act of measurement always disturbs the object measured.

Next, DeGrasse Tyson explains that the whole computer world is based on the principle of quantum mechanics. We are able to manipulate the electrical properties of silicon only because we can study the wave nature of electrons. Our daily routines are often governed by technology that is directly related to quantum mechanics, thus our lives rest upon these fundamental scientific discoveries.

Another hard concept to grasp is quantum entanglement. Albert Einstein referred to it as “spooky action at a distance. It occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others. Here, DeGrasse Tyson explains this concept with everyday life examples that make the concept easier to understand.

As DeGrasse Tyson points out, the first quantum phenomena were observed over a century ago, yet scientists are still learning about this aspect of our universe.

View the original video here.

Good Living is the Cyprus Mail’s portal of curated content from across the internet, showcasing local and global ideas, cultural highlights, and scientific and technological developments to inspire a sustainable life.

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