The universe is one of life’s greatest mysteries. Of all the baffling discoveries that humanity has uncovered over the centuries, quantum physics remains the most mind-boggling to this day. Quantum mechanics, the most rigorously tested theory in the history of science, took the world by storm, with its discovery leading physicists to raise questions about the nature of our reality.
This is because quantum physics give strange, contradicting insights about how matter behaves, opposing how things seem to work in our natural world. Let us share an example: an object can exist in more than one place at a time. That means virtual particles can appear in different spaces and disappear the next moment.
Are you intrigued yet? Then read on for more astonishing facts about the quantum world.
1. We are all entangled with each other
It is hard to wrap our minds around quantum entanglement. Entanglement happens when you have partial knowledge of the state of two systems that interact with each other. One is in state A, and the other is in state B. In quantum theory, this means that anything that has ever engaged with each other is now inexorably bound.
If we attempt to alter either state, the other instantly changes to compensate. They interact with each other, process information faster than the speed of light, and cannot be described independently of each other.
These pair of particles are correlated – even if they are on opposite sides of the room or opposing ends of the universe. Renowned physicist Albert Einstein had even described this behaviour as “spooky action at a distance”.
2. Objects can be in two places at once
Introducing wave-particle duality, a paradox of quantum superposition. In simplified terms, it means that a quantum object can exist in multiple states at once. For instance, an electron can be both ‘here’ and ‘there’ simultaneously. Only after experimenting to see where the electron is can you reveal its actual state.
Cue a mathematical entity, the wave function. After you make an observation, the wave function collapses, forcing the object into one of its many probable states.
The theory of being in two places at once was derived from the famous Schrödinger cat experiment. A hypothetical feline was sealed in a box containing a quantum system and poisoned food. Before opening the box and making an actual observation, the cat was in a superposition of both states – meaning it was dead and alive.
3. The faster you move, the heavier you get
According to quantum physics, Usain Bolt weighs heavier on the track than on the scale. This observation is based on Einstein’s relativity theory. Let us recall his famous equation:
- Formula: e= mc^2
The greater the speed you move at, the more energy is required to propel you forward. The speed of light is constant, but the energy around you is consistently increasing. Note that nothing with mass can ever reach the speed of light. Yes, that includes us.
Following the theory of special relativity, mass and energy are interchangeable as they are just different forms of the same thing. If you put in tons of energy on an object moving at the speed of light, it would require extra power to handle the constantly increasing mass of the object. The momentum gained by the object results in it having a heavier mass.
If quantum physics has taught us anything, it is that with each discovery, it opens a whole new realm of possibilities. As far-fetched as all these quantum strangeness sound, experiments have been proving these theories right time and time again.
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