FIF 622 - A First Encounter with Quantum Mysteries
The 20th Century was a time of profound changes in our understanding of the physical world. While Einstein’s Theory of Relativity challenged our established notions of space, time and gravitation, the Quantum Revolution opened our eyes to a world of mysterious phenomena and apparent paradoxes—ones that we have no choice but to accept and make sense of! Did you know that certain tiny particles, such as electrons, can exist in different places at once and that it is possible to know either where they are, or how fast they are moving, but never both? In this course you will have a first taste of counterintuitive mysteries and paradoxes. These include quantum superposition (epitomized by the iconic “Schrödinger’s Cat” thought experiment), wave-particle duality, spooky coincidences between twin particles living far apart, and many other mind-bending phenomena. Apart from covering the basics of these phenomena, there will also be discussion about their technological applications, philosophical implications, and a glimpse of the history of the science. No prior knowledge of physics is required. Bring with you the most commonsense notions and watch them crumble under the weight of weird quantum phenomena!
By completion of this course, successful students will be able to:
- Describe the basic meaning of single-particle interference and wave-particle duality
- Answer simple questions about related thought experiments
- Explain the concept of interaction-free measurement
- Discuss how quantum non-locality is observed and its philosophical implications
- Name a few applications of quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement
Christoph Simon is a professor in the Physics and Astronomy department. He is also a member of the U of C's Institute for Quantum Science and Technology. His research area is theoretical quantum physics. He studies counter-intuitive quantum phenomena such as superposition and entanglement and their potential applications.