Quantum Mechanics

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Quantum Mechanics

Quantum MechanicsBy Ryan White

Quantum theory originated in the early 1900s, when physicists, notably Max Planck, were experimenting with odd phenomena concerning energy; it seemed that, in some situations, energy would behave like typical waves of energy, while in other cases it would behave like particular matter, as expressed by the strange results of the double-slit experiment. It was later established that energy is composed of "quanta" that can behave either way, and physicists began to play with this new concept.

As physicists continue experimenting, they begin to understand quanta more and more. Physicists determine that protons and neutrons are not actually the smallest forms of standard matter; thye are, themselves, formed by a triad of quarks. The list of quanta was slowly enumerated until we ended up with 6 'flavors' of quarks, 6 leptons (3 negatively charged particles and 3 small, weak "neutrinos"), 4 force-carrying bosons, and the special Higgs boson.

Although some experiments, like the double-slit experiment, can be performed without the needof highly complex equipment, many experiments in quantum mechanics require massive particle colliders, such as the famous Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Massless particles are relatively easy to work with, but massive particles require precision and power to single out the quanta, and that is where thecolliders come in.

The developments made in quantum mechanics have provided us with a better udnerstanding of the fundamentals of the world around us. Thanks to physicists like Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrodinger, we are now beginning to understand the smallest pieces of our universe, and we're still trying to solve the puzzle to this day.


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