Tom Jonard's Quantum Mechanics PageClassical physics was replaced as our best description of physical reality in the first quarter of the 20th century by Quantum Mechanics (QM) -- a system so weird that Einstein himself who won a Nobel prize for his contribution to the field truly believed reality could not be this way.
You would never know this from my education and I suspect most other people's experience is the same. When I studied Physics in high school and later in college we spent a lot of time on inclined planes, levers and pulleys. We studied force, energy and work. We learned about electricity, magnetism and thermodynamics. Toward the end we got around to nuclear physics if there was time. If we learned of Plank's constant and the photoelectric effect it was not preceded by the warning, "Now this is really weird!". Had it been so we all might have paid closer attention and there might be more scientists in the world today.
It was decades before I began to read some of the weird experimental results that forced QM into the forefront of Physics. The results were no less startling than the interpretations they were given by physicists.
I am not going to claim to understand QM. I am not a scientist. I don't have the background in mathematics (and I've forgotten a lot of what I did learn in mathematical logic) needed to tackle most source texts on QM so I rely on popularizations. Nevertheless and with the hope I do not mislead anyone I am going to jump into the deep end of the pool and make some statements about what I think QM says and means:
#1 All matter and energy come in discrete quanta.
#2 Classical models of the world do not work.
#3 Physical reality is not local.
#4 How physical reality is related to what we perceive it to be is unknown.
Here is a QM FAQ.
Here are some books on Quantum Mechanics.
Because QM is a mathematical model it can be viewed philosophically as a kind of Idealism. Here are some thoughts on Idealism.
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Created May 16, 2001,
© 2001, Thomas A. Jonard