The world of small sub-atomic particles such as the protons fascinates me because it is the ultimate science fiction book or movie. Except the quantum world is real. Countless experiments have proven the mind boggling predictions quantum mechanics makes. The laws that govern this world has brought us miraculous things such as the cell phone, e-mail, lasers, blu-ray players, the internet, and some day teleportation!
Double Slit Experiment
Imagine you’re at a bowling alley and you take a piece of metal cut with two slits. Put something in the place of the pins so you can detect where the ball will hit. Now throw a bowling ball down the lane. You know the ball would either hit on the left side, right side or slam into the middle of the metal. The ball is made of matter. Electrons, photons and all other small particles are matter and should act the same way. So shot them done the lane and see two spots on the were they hit. These small objects act like waves of water or light instead of solid particles. The detector at the end will have many spots where the particles hit including the middle. Quantum mechanics says you only know the probability of where the particles will hit and this is very odd because you cannot imagine a bowling ball hitting the middle of the paper when there’s a barrier. So we are made of particles and so is everything else you know, but we don’t go through walls or fall through the ground. Here is a video where you will understand the explanation of the double slit experiment better.
Another property of quantum mechanics called entanglement explains how things are undetermined until one measures it. Let’s visit another experiment that was a thought experiment by Erwin Schrodinger called Schrodinger’s Cat. Imagine we changed the electrons and other small particles to a cat and set the cat in a box. Also inside the box is a flask of poison ready to be opened. Entanglement says that this cat is dead and alive at the same time. The end result isn’t final until you open the box and observe a dead cat or an alive and purring cat. The act of observation or measurement of small particles determines the outcome. Here someone draws pictures to explain the thought experiment: