MadSci Network: Physics

Re: What is 'Quantum Theory?'

Area: Physics
Posted By: David Barlow, Private individual, Grad education in Physics/Astrophysics and Comp. Support
Date: Wed Jan 22 17:28:06 1997
Message ID: 853897137.Ph

re:What is 'Quantum Theory?'

Dear Dane

Quantum Theory is the study of how Sub-Atomic particles such as Electrons, Protons and Neutrons behave and interact. It was found that there was no difference between `solid' particles and the waves that make up light. So an Electron can be treated as if it was a wave and light can be treated as if it is a particle, in this case we call light a Photon. We call this Wave-Particle duality and it is what led to Quantum Theory being discovered. I will warn you that Quantum Theory is not easy to understand or appreciate.

The word Quantum means `in discrete amounts. What was found is that the energy of an electron, say, can only have whole values 1,2,3,4, or 5, and so on, of a smallest value. You can not have one and half amounts of this value. We would say that the energy is `qauntised'. This is like saying that you can only buy whole bars of Chocolate or Cereals. You can not buy half a bar or half a box. In the same way you can not have half an electron or half a photon. More importantly Quantum Theory says that you can only have sizes of bars of chocolate that are multiples of a fixed amount. I.E. 5 grams, 10 grams, 15 grams, 20 grams, 25 grams and so on. You can not have a bar of chocolate that is 23 grams in weight. Nor can you have a bar that is 4 grams in weight as 5 grams is the smallest allowed value.

For a look at the history behind you this I am including a few links I found on the Web. A word of warning, these links assume you understand High-School Physics at least. I would reccomend you get a good book from the Library for a better understanding of this. Unfortunately few books of Quantum Theory exist that are not University text books.


Dave Barlow

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