A brief history of quantum mechanics

A brief history of quantum mechanics


Quantum mechanics is a fundamental physical theory describing the behaviour of matter and energy at the scale of atomic and subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, gluons and quarks lying within them. The theory itself states its beginning in the early 20th century in order to explain the strange and seemingly random behaviour of particles such as electrons and protons because it couldn’t be described by the methods of classical physics.

Concepts & Contributions of Quantum Mechanics

One of the most striking aspects of quantum mechanics indeed is the concept of wave-particle duality which in general states that particles can exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties depending on how they are observed. This means that a particle, such as an electron, can exhibit wave-like behaviour when it is not being followed but will behave like a particle when it is being observed or measured. This seemingly paradoxical behaviour is known as the uncertainty principle.

The uncertainty principle

It was first mathematically formulated by Werner Heisenberg in the year 1927 bringing a profound impact on our understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe with it.

Another key and important concept in quantum mechanics is the idea of superposition which states that a particle can exist in multiple states or locations at the same time. This means that an electron, for example, can simultaneously exist in two different energy states, or be in two different places at the same time. This concept is often demonstrated through the famous double-slit experiment, in which a beam of particles passes through two slits and produces an interference pattern on a screen behind it, indicating that the particles are behaving like waves.

Quantum mechanics has also led to the development of important technologies such as transistors, lasers, and computer chips, and it has had a major impact on fields such as chemistry and materials science. It has also led to the discovery of new phenomena such as quantum entanglement, in which two particles become connected in a way that allows them to influence each other's behaviour regardless of the distance between them.

Developers of Quantum Mechanics

The foundations of quantum mechanics were laid by Max Planck, who developed the concept of quantized energy in 1900. This concept explained the observed spectrum of light emitted by a hot object, and it marked the beginning of the quantum revolution.

Albert Einstein made significant contributions to quantum mechanics with his theory of the photoelectric effect, which explained how light can knock electrons out of atoms. This theory, which was published in 1905, was the first to show that light can behave both as a particle and as a wave.

In the 1920s, Louis de Broglie and Erwin Schrödinger developed the theory of wave-particle duality, which stated that particles can exhibit both wave-like and particle-like properties depending on how they are observed. This theory was developed further by Werner Heisenberg, who introduced the uncertainty principle, which stated that it is impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle with perfect precision.

Finally, Paul Dirac developed the theory of quantum electrodynamics, which describes the interactions between particles and electromagnetic fields. This theory was a major breakthrough in quantum mechanics, and it helped to explain the behaviour of subatomic particles and the structure of atoms.


Overall, quantum mechanics is a fascinating and revolutionary theory that has had a profound impact on our understanding of the world at the atomic and subatomic scales. It has been developed over a period of several decades by a number of scientists, with each contribution building on the work of those who came before. Today, it is considered one of the fundamental theories of physics, and it continues to be refined and developed by scientists around the world.

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✍️ Quote of the week

“If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you dont understand quantum mechanics."
Richard P. Feynman

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