Quantum Mechanics for Dummies - Electrons Are Weird

Einstein couldn't wrap his mind around quantum physics, why should we try? Because there are explantations that make sense out of a nonsensical world; because there are perspectives that clarify mysteries; because it is fun!

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"All men desire to know" Aristotle. Sadly, what people know and what is true are two different things. Do you know the Earth is flat? No! because it isn't so. Do you know life comes from one command? No! because it isn't so. Do you know Earth was made for man? No! because it isn't so.

But that trick won't work with a normal flashlight.  You need a laser pointer split by a prism!  :)

Oh shoot! If I set up the experiment and used a flashlight, I won't get the effect? Well, so much for that project! 

A flashlight won't work because the light isn't coherent.  A LASER POINTER WILL work.  Here's what you do:

  1. Take a glass slide or other similar piece of glass and paint it flat black on one side.
  2. Take two single-edged razor blades, hold them tightly together and cut two parallel slits in the paint.
  3. With the glass slide in a fixed position and a plain (preferably white) backdrop behind it, aim the laser pointer at the glass slide where the slits were cut.  You should see a clear diffraction pattern on the backdrop, owing to the wave interference.

I should mention, I did this very experiment in college physics lab, something over 40 years ago.

Kindly note: doing the same thing with electrons is CONSIDERABLY HARDER!

Perhaps it could be done with a Scanning Electron Microscope.  I'd consider trying if I weren't retired.

No, but as Loren said, it still can be done at home!  As a bonus, your cat will love the laser pointer!  I know mine do!  :D

Lots of images and videos on this - search "double slit experiment". The experiment is very strange because it shows photons behaving like a wave, BUT when some stands next to it and watches it, the photon change to act like particles. As if having an observer changes reality.

There was an interesting documentary (Through the Wormhole?) on the nature of reality, where they floated silicone drops on oil and got MANY of them to behave just like this - waves and particles - even the double slit oddity

I wasn't able to open this link, but copied and pasted the title and came up with this most interesting film. Morgan Freeman walks us through an experiment by Yves Couder and I get a shiver running up and down my spine. Particle and wave co-exist! COOL! indeed!

My 9-year-old son is ... well, he's my son, he's a geek.  In my travels through his science education I've found a few absolutely brilliant gems

The first book I got for my daughter - I think of it as "A Brief History of Time" for kids: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Universe-Whats-Big-Idea/dp/0340655909 - I cannot rave enough about this book (that's my 2002 review... I'm still keen on it!)

That book helps to set the stage for this one: http://www.amazon.com/This-Strange-Quantum-World-You/dp/1577330358 

Stephen and Lucy Hawking have a series out - we only have one of them, but it's not bad: http://www.amazon.com/Georges-Secret-Universe-Stephen-Hawking/dp/14... 

Now - time for the big keyboard confessional.  I learned how to explain these mind-blowing concepts so much easier (because I understood them more) after these kids books... just sayin'...

Very cool!  I can't wait to indoctrinate my kids with this same stuff!  :D

Aristotle might have meant "All men desire to claim to know."

More years ago than I want to count, while in college, I read of Aristotle's claim that women have fewer teeth than men.

About 2K years passed before someone with access to the media counted teeth and found Aristotle wrong.

And...

Observing photons changes their reality?

Observing politicians changes their behavior and changes observers' beliefs.

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