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Quantum mechanics dominated most of twentieth century physics. It shook the very foundations on which classical physics stood. Many people find quantum mechanics non-intuitive, as it goes against one's notion about the way things work. Einstein, who kept on searching for an alternate theory until his death, thus did not accept it.
As such, Quantum mechanics allows a very accurate mathematical model of subatomic particle interactions. It states that every object exists in a particle wave duality wherein every particle has a frequency and wavelength, properties of waves, and also mass and velocity, properties of particles. The wavelength of a particle is inversely related to its momentum. Hence particles behave both like waves and particle.
Another interesting feature is that you cannot predict both the wavelength/frequency and position of an object at a given time with arbitrary precision. This constitutes the Heisenberg principle which states that the product of error in particle position and particle wavelength has to be more than or equal to the Plank’s constant upon wavelength. It was this uncertainty which Einstein resented. "God does not play dice with the world," he has said.
This uncertainty also brings about certain complexities. Since the position of an electron in an atom cannot be predicted, it is thus made to constitute an electron cloud that covers the atom with its shape dependent on the orbit characteristics.
Quantum mechanics is strange because it reduces everything down to probabilities. We can predict how many electrons in a beam will scatter when moving through a screen with holes in it, but we cannot predict which electron will scatter in which direction. This is why when a beam of electrons is shot through two small holes, they end up creating an interference pattern on the other side instead of making two beams. Even if they are shot one at a time, they create an interference pattern (how can one electron interfere with itself?). It is very strange, but it shows the wave properties of matter. In addition, the state of a particle is unknown until it is finally measured or observed. Once measured, the property observed is based on the probability of the particle being in that state.
It was this interference of a single electron with itself which caused a minority of scientists to come up with an alternate theory which hypothesized that the electron actually underwent interference with other electrons which resided in various other states in many other universes parallel to ours. This was criticized by many physicists and thus has not been adopted.
There is also a finite probability that particles may "tunnel" through or make a quantum leap through impenetrable barriers. If an electron is placed in a box, it usually does not have enough energy to penetrate the walls of the box. However, according to quantum theory, the probability wave of the electron will spread through the box. Depending on the size of the box, you can calculate the probability that the electron will end up outside the box. Many electronic devices, even the computer you are using right now, are based on components that allow electrons to tunnel through barriers. However, this also means that there is a probability for even impossible events to occur too. You can calculate the probability that you will suddenly disappear and tunnel outside your house. However, the probability is so small that you would have to wait longer than the lifetime of the entire universe even to see if that could happen. This probability is based on your wave function. The probability of you staying where you are is almost infinitely higher than the probability of you being somewhere else.
Many new theories in particle physics have ever since been developed in accordance to quantum mechanics that explains sub atomic particle interactions. The fundamentals of these interactions are:
Work is still underway to integrate the gravitational interactions in the theory that would then explain every single phenomenon in physics. Existence of a particle whose exchange leads to gravitational interactions (a graviton) has been speculated.
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Clyde, Chetan, Jim
Melanie Krieger, Chhaya Taralekar