Friday, July 04, 2014

Quantum Physics In Your Daily Lives

I initially thought that this Newsweek article was reporting something new that had been discovered in quantum mechanics that had some serious applications. But it turns out that it was more of an article that quite clearly described all the practical advances that came out of QM.

At the most basic, almost everything we do is grounded in quantum physics—matter (all of it) is a collection of quantum particles, while light, electricity and magnetism are all quantum phenomena. At the next level are the quantum technologies we humans built without being aware of the physics that made them possible. When Swan and Edison produced electric lightbulbs, they didn’t know that light generated from a heated filament is a quantum process—they ended up implicitly drawing on quantum physics without even knowing it.
It only takes a few minutes analyzing a smartphone to realize the pervasiveness of quantum technology. To start, quantum physics is required to construct any solid-state electronics—every chip inside your iPhone is packed full of quantum devices like transistors and has to be designed to encompass the peculiar quantum behavior of electrons. On top of that, your phone has a computer, display, touch interface, digital camera, light-emitting diode and global positioning system receiver—each developed as a result of our understanding of the field.

As I've always tried to convey, physics is more than just the LHC and string theory. It is also your iPhone, your MRI, your GPS, etc. A lot of people often hear about the exotic properties and consequences of QM without realizing that it works, and that they are using it! So this is a good article to give anyone who is ignorant about this.


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