Till late 19th century, Classical Physics was the norm.
To give it some measure, we can say classical physics is at atom level or larger.
It mainly deals with macroscopic world. Everything is calculated and experimented. The results can be predicted accurately (given that we have complete knowledge of the system beforehand). It also has a specific framework – one for particles and the other for waves.
Newton’s laws of motion are a perfect example of classical physics.
However, there were too many questions that classical physics could not answer.
Wave-Particle duality could arguably be the most talked about. It explains that particles can have wave like characteristics and vice versa.
For e.g. – Light acts like a wave if we look at how it travels. At the same time, it acts like a particle, when we try to describe how it interacts with matter.
Towards the end of 19th Century, Max Planck published his study, black-body radiation. His experiments demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics of physical matter. Till this time, as per classical physics, energy had a wave framework. Planck’s theory showed that energy is made up of particle-like components, known as “quantum.” The theory helped to resolve several unexplained phenomenons for e.g. the heat behavior in solids. This discovery marked the birth of Quantum Physics and later other scientists (Einstein, Niels and so on) helped to make further advancements in it.
So, what is Quantum Physics all about? Why is it so important?
To put it simply, quantum physics deals with microscopic world. And, in the quantum world, particles can be in two states at the same time. All these particles (protons, neutrons, electrons) are the very smallest of things in nature. If we break down everything – it is all about these minute particles. We too are made up of it. Anything that happens in one small particle – effects the system (as a whole). If we can understand how it works – we can understand everything.
And, the irony –
We keep talking about bigger things, the discoveries of new planets and related stuff, but we have not succeeded yet to understand clearly, how the universe functions at the smallest level.
Black holes, Quantum entanglement – a lot has been talked on these but only in theories. We are not even close to understanding it completely.
No doubt, the universe is vast and beyond our imagination, but open to explore.
May be the answers are all lying there in the space – may be in some secret hideout – may be waiting for us to ask the right questions !
This is just a glimpse, there is so much more than this. I encourage you to go ahead – read, learn and explore. And, when you can uncover the mysteries and explain them in simple words – there will be a Nobel Prize waiting for you !
Photo Credits : Quantum