The Map of Quantum Physics: A Colorful Animation Explains the Often Misunderstood Branch of Science

In our time, few branch­es of sci­ence have tak­en as much pub­lic abuse as quan­tum physics, the study of how things behave at the atom­ic scale. It’s not so much that peo­ple dis­like the sub­ject as they see fit to draft it in sup­port of any giv­en notion: quan­tum physics, one hears, proves that we have free will, or that Bud­dhist wis­dom is true, or that there is an after­life, or that noth­ing real­ly exists. Those claims may or may not be true, but they do not help us at all to under­stand what quan­tum physics actu­al­ly is. For that we’ll want to turn to Dominic Wal­li­man, a Youtu­ber whose chan­nel Domain of Sci­ence fea­tures clear visu­al expla­na­tions of sci­en­tif­ic fields includ­ing physics, chem­istry, math­e­mat­ics, as well as the whole domain of sci­ence itself — and who also, as luck would have it, is a quan­tum physics PhD.

With his knowl­edge of the field, and his mod­esty as far as what can be defin­i­tive­ly said about it, Wall­man has designed a map of quan­tum physics, avail­able for pur­chase at his web site. In the video above he takes us on a guid­ed tour through the realms into which he has divid­ed up and arranged his sub­ject, begin­ning with the “pre-quan­tum mys­ter­ies,” inquiries into which led to its foun­da­tion.

From there he con­tin­ues on to the foun­da­tions of quan­tum physics, a ter­ri­to­ry that includes such poten­tial­ly famil­iar land­marks as par­ti­cle-wave dual­i­ty, Heisen­berg’s uncer­tain­ty prin­ci­ple, and the Schrödinger equa­tion — though not yet his cat, anoth­er favorite quan­tum-physics ref­er­ence among those who don’t know much about quan­tum physics.

Alas, as c explains in the sub­se­quent “quan­tum phe­nom­e­na” sec­tion, Schrödinger’s cat is “not very help­ful, because it was orig­i­nal­ly designed to show how absurd quan­tum mechan­ics seems, as cats can’t be alive and dead at the same time.” But then, this is a field that pro­ceeds from absur­di­ty, or at least from the fact that its obser­va­tions at first made no sense by the tra­di­tion­al laws of physics. There fol­low for­ays into quan­tum tech­nol­o­gy (lasers, solar pan­els, MRI machines), quan­tum infor­ma­tion (com­put­ing, cryp­tog­ra­phy, the prospect tele­por­ta­tion), and a vari­ety of sub­fields includ­ing con­densed mat­ter physics, quan­tum biol­o­gy, and quan­tum chem­istry. Though detailed enough to require more than one view­ing, Wal­li­man’s map also makes clear how much of quan­tum physics remains unex­plored — and most encour­ag­ing­ly of all, leaves off its sup­posed philo­soph­i­cal, or exis­ten­tial impli­ca­tions. You can watch Wal­li­man’s oth­er intro­duc­tion to Quan­tum Physics below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Quan­tum Physics Made Rel­a­tive­ly Sim­ple: A Mini Course from Nobel Prize-Win­ning Physi­cist Hans Bethe

Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tions to Quan­tum Mechan­ics: From Schrödinger’s Cat to Heisenberg’s Uncer­tain­ty Prin­ci­ple

The Map of Physics: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Physics Fit Togeth­er

The Map of Chem­istry: New Ani­ma­tion Sum­ma­rizes the Entire Field of Chem­istry in 12 Min­utes

The Map of Math­e­mat­ics: Ani­ma­tion Shows How All the Dif­fer­ent Fields in Math Fit Togeth­er

Info­graph­ics Show How the Dif­fer­ent Fields of Biol­o­gy, Chem­istry, Math­e­mat­ics, Physics & Com­put­er Sci­ence Fit Togeth­er

Free Online Physics Cours­es

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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  • Richard Jones says:

    Very well done overview. I’ve just read Lee Smolin’s “Einstein’s Unfin­ished Rev­o­lu­tion” (in search of a phys­i­cal­ist TOE, and Bernard Kastrup’s “The Idea of the World”, which grounds real­i­ty in con­scious­ness, Both frame­works are con­sis­tent with a rela­tion­al inter­pre­ta­tion. Both con­clude that the uni­verse con­sist of views of itself, each from an event in its his­to­ry. Since humans are spe­cial events because they can col­lec­tive­ly learn to know the universe’s his­to­ry„ it fol­lows that mankind is the way the uni­verse gets to increas­ing­ly know itself, per­haps with Kastrup’s frame­work. I would love to have your com­ments.
    Cheers, Richard

  • Maziar says:

    Why you try to say that quan­tum mechan­ics us not weird. Because you want to sur­vive mate­ri­al­ism. I am an expert in QM too.
    Peo­ple have right to know that Quan­tum Mechan­ics is real­ly strange. Super­po­si­tion prin­ci­ple is a sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ple. It is not some­thing that peo­ple said lie about it. Schro­ding­er cat is real­ly in super­po­si­tion of death and alive. You afraid from quan­tum mechan­ics. Because you like to save peo­ple mate­ri­al­ist. You know that uncer­tain­ty prin­ci­ple shows that all the answers are not in sci­ence. As like as what Godel incom­plete­ness did in math­e­mat­ics. You try to tell peo­ple there is no mys­te­ri­ous in sci­ence. But there are. All great physists know this truth.

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