Root and Source of New Technology
Quantum physics describes the behavior of the smallest parts of matter. The development of the quantum theory by a cluster of European physicists in the early 20th century completely changed our understanding of how the physical world operates.
Even then, the scientists didn’t all agree. In a 1926 letter to Born, Einstein made this now famous quote:
Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.
Quantum theory reveals the strangeness at the heart of ordinary things. For example, light can be seen both as particles and as waves. Particles only interact with other things with probability, not with certainty.
Without this theory, we would have no transistors – an early source of benefit and an ongoing field of study. There would also be no fiber-optic cables and no lasers. The theory was developed out of the inquisitiveness of man wanting to know how things work.
The principles discovered led to practical outcomes – computers, tech reduced in size, high-speed internet and CD and DVD players. Quantum theory is an example of how scientific query can come to have far reaching practical effects on our world.