Quantum Mechanics: The Unknown

This is where human knowledge comes to a complete and udder stop.. we cannot explain why this happens and we probably won't for a few more decades (at least).

Let's give you a crash course into Quantum Mechanics;

It's the study of small stuff. Really small stuff.
Stuff so small you can't even see it under a microscope under millions upon millions of zoom. Why is this? Because the space between atoms is.. well.. astronomical.

Infact the only reason we know such things exist is because of small sensors and other technologies which can detect their existence and tell us that it's there.

Anyways.. let's move on.

Picture in your mind you have a giant wall.. say.. 10 by 10 meters (we're going to scale things up a bit here) and you fire soccer balls at it from 100 fixed points even spread out with the same width and height as the wall.. picture the machines perfectly aligned with the wall so the ball hits it at 180 degrees, and the machines are not offset in any way (see picture 1 if you still don't understand what I mean).

What do you think will happen when the balls hit the wall? Well all of your ____ years of experience on this planet tells you that the balls will reflect off the wall and fall to the ground (assuming there's gravity).

Now assume you cut two slits in the wall the exact width of a soccer ball. What do you think would happen now?

Well your experiences would tell you that any balls fired at the holes would go through, while the rest bounced off, and that the balls that went through would hit the wall in the exact same spot every time seeing as how the machines firing them are fixed and never move and are always being fired at the same speed.

See picture 2 for a better understanding. The white balls miss the slits and bounce off, the blue balls pass through.

Now assuming these soccer balls were particles.. what scientists did was create exactly this scenario. Behind the slits they put a sensor that detected when and where the atom hit. The results (which can be recreated at any time should you have the ability) were absolutely shocking and blew scientists away.

Let's assume the sensor wall turned blue every time a particle hit it. What you would assume to see will be described in picture 3.

Two areas would be lit up because balls were only able to pass through the wall in two areas. However what actually happened is shown in picture 4.

Assuming you can understand what I'm trying to say with my extremely poorly drawn images here, you're probably thinking "wtf am I looking at?".

Well what you're looking at is proof that atoms are not like soccer balls (for one) and two that they do not apply to any form of physics we previous thought.

Infact all we can determine is that A: the atom was fired, and that B: the atom hit the sensor. We cannot understand what happened in between. Why? Because the only way 7 spots on the sensor could have been hit is if the atoms travel at seemingly random directions, at seemingly random speeds. However this defies all known laws of physics and blew Einstein away.

Like many other things, though, Einstein had a theory as to why. This is explained in a moment, first I must ask you to look at Picture 5 to fully understand what it is I just said.

So what was Einstein's theory for this? Well.. that the atom does not exist in one single place until the very moment we knew it was fired and the very moment we know it hit the sensor. In between it was everywhere in the universe all at once.

I won't delve into the details any more; however if you're interested in knowing more I suggest you go watch the television show "Beyond the Cosmos" with Brian Greene, and watch the episode about Quantum Mechanics.

So there it is. The Unknown.
Anyone have any ideas about why the atoms do this?
Try not to repeat Einstein too much.
 

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Level 22
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Messages
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Scientists do know a lot about this. The reason you see more than just 2 distinct areas where the particles hit is interference. The particles behave as waves and go through both slits and interfere with itself. But if you add a sensor to which slit it goes through, it will be forced to go through only 1 slit, and thus behave like it "should".

Anyway, gotta go now, so can't write more.
 
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