Quantum Tunnel Answers – Interest in Quantum Physics

This time is not really a question that has arrived to the Quantum Tunnel mailbox, it is rather an observation and some cheers. Let’s take a look:

Dear Quantum Tunnel,

I have listened to all the available Quantum Tunnel podcasts in Spanish, the content is great and the news are cool. I am interested in understanding more about quantum theory and in my experience there is no a lot of information at my level that does not make it all sounds like philosophy or even a bad example. In most cases the explanations start up assuming that one does understand the “quantum concepts”. With those limitations, I am afraid to admit that I actually fail to see the genius of Einstein. Having said that I refuse to think that after I am unable to understand ideas that are thought in universities. Surely some explanations do not start with “time is relative”. If thousands can understand it, so can I.

Pablo Mitlanian

Hello again Pablo, I agree with you that there is a lot of information out there that either assumes too much, or simply exploits the concepts for non-scientific purposes. You are right, I am sure you can understand the intricacies of quantum-mechanical phenomena, but bear in mind the words of Richard Feynman “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics”.  I would not expect someone to become a quantum physicist without the appropriate training, in the same way we cannot all perform a heart transplant without studying medicine and practicing. That doesn’t mean we can’t change careers though!

If you want to learn quantum theory in ten minutes, take a look at the blog post that the Quantum Pontiff blog posted a few years back. Yes, there are ducks and turkeys, but then again they promised to explain in 10 minutes. There are nonetheless a few things that can serve as building blocks to achieve your goal:

  1. Learn about classical physics (yes, the courses on mechanics that you probably took in high school, exactly those). A good understanding of this will highlight those non-intuitive results from the quantum world.
  2. Understand how to describe the behaviour of particles and of waves (I guess this is part of number 1 above, so just stressing the point!)
  3. Make sure you are well versed in the use of probability (yes, I am saying that you need to revise some mathematics!)
  4. Be patient!

It all that works, perhaps consider enrolling at your local University to read physics, you never know you make the next discovery in physics. Incidentally, within your revision make sure you understand that relativity theory (general or special) is completely decoupled from quantum theory. As a matter of fact, joining the two is one of the biggest challenges in physics today.

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