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KeithWilson's avatar

Can anyone explain to me in laymans terms the basic principles, implications, and conclusions of quantum mechanics?

Asked by KeithWilson (833points) May 5th, 2010

I want to know and understand the basic principles and implications of quantum mechanics and/or quantum physics, but I cant follow the complicated thought patterns and mathmatics involved. Can anyone give me the conclusions in laymans terms?

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Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This is a very complex topic to discuss effectively here. I recommend you you consult a physics student with time and good communication skills to help you understand this fascinating theoretical scientific area. These two videos may help you: One and Two

This may also help you.

You have also want to go here for more easy to understand information.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

The hyperphysics website is brilliant for beginners to study almost any field of physics. I recommend you read the specifics of what you want to know there.

Quantum mechanics was first indicated by the Schrodinger Equation, which solved the ‘Ultraviolet Catastrophe’ issue posed by applying classical formulae to the black body problem, and Einstein’s work on the Photoelectric Effect. The Schrodinger Equation treats light as being in distinct packets (quanta) rather than being a wave form as described by Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations. This idea was also important in Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect.

The other major origin of quantum mechanics was the De Broglie hypothesis, which suggested that electrons are in the form of matter waves in order to solve the stability problems with the Bohr atomic model. So we have light being treated as particles (photons) and electrons being treated as waves. This soon led to the conclusion that particles and waves are just different expressions of the same entity, and either nature could be measured depending on the experiment performed. Experiments such as the double-slit experiment and the Bragg diffraction experiment confirmed this idea.

Further mathematical fiddling by some of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th century led to further implications of QM such as the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which prevents multiple particles possessing the same quantum numbers (such as mass, spin, charge and location in space and time). Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is another important outcome, as it describes the limits on the knowledge it is possible to have about a particle. The more accurately we measure its position, the less accurately we can measure its velocity (and vice versa). This shows from a mathematical derivation that particles are not points in space, but are probability waves smeared through space.

QM is one of the most important and most mind bending scientific theories we have. I have not done it justice, but hopefully I’ve given you a few more leads to research.

Cruiser's avatar

Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics which deals with the study of particles to the extent of atomic and sub-atomic level. What this suggests is that our traditional “known” laws of physics are not entirely applicable at the sub atomic level primarily because there are so many unobservable and unknown elements of their behavior and especial their origin. We simply don’t yet know enough to truly understand or quantify what is going on a sub atomic level and much is being done to literally crack that egg especially with all the work currently being done at the CERN accelerator.

The term ‘Quantum Mechanics’ was given by Max Born in 1924. With the discovery of electron, by J.J. Thomson, in the year 1932, the whole idea of classical physics was shown to be inapplicable at the atomic level. Classical physics which was governed by the Newton’s laws of motion and Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism, was used to define and predict the motion of particles.

I myself have zero “working” knowledge of either of these disciplines but am fascinated by every bit of it especially the mind bending Schoedinger’s Cat experiment.

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