Image credit: Science / AAAS.

Quantum Reality

Posted by Ethan Siegel on January 25, 2013

“I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes…again.” -Shel Silverstein

When it comes to the classical world — the world on a macroscopic scale — we all feel comfortable using the word reality. While we may quibble over the finer, technical points of the definition of the word, you and I know reality when we see it.

There are all sorts of properties we assign to real objects: they have energy, they exist at certain points in space and moments in time, they have certain properties of motion, and are measurable and quantifiable in a variety of other ways.

But if we head into the quantum realm, down to scales so small that our classical laws and pictures break down, we discover that things are drastically different, and that reality no longer conforms to our expectations.

This ranges from microbes here on Earth to the largest structures in the Universe: all of these are quantifiable as real in terms of energy, position, time, and momentum, among other properties.

Read more: Quantum Reality – Starts With A Bang.

Home           Top of page