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Quantum Physics – Welcome to the Matrix Ride 0

Quantum physics is giving mankind the power to manipulate the fundamental building blocks of matter. Science fiction ideas like the space elevator, teleportation, invisibility cloaks, or nanosized molecular machines might soon become a reality. Leading theoretical physicist and futurist Dr Michio Kaku explores the cutting edge science of today, tomorrow, and beyond. He argues that humankind is at a turning point in history. In this century, we are going to make the historic transition from the ‘Age of Discovery’ to the ‘Age of Mastery’, a period in which we will move from being passive observers of nature to its active choreographers.

Visions of the Future:

Episode 1: The Intelligence Revolution

Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku shows how, in the 21st century, artificial intelligence is going to become as ubiquitous as electricity, how robots with human-level intelligence may finally become a reality, and how we’ll even be able to merge our minds with machine intelligence. As the challenges and choices are literally mind-bending, Dr Kaku asks how far we will ultimately go.

Episode 2: The Biotech Revolution

Leading theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku looks at the revolution in genetics and biotechnology, which promises unprecedented health and longevity but also raises the spectre of a Frankenstein future of genetically engineered people. Will we, as transhumanists expect, evolve into a new species? Dr Kaku warns that we may end up in a world divided by genetic apartheid.

Episode 3: The Quantum Revolution

Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku shows how quantum physics is giving mankind the power to manipulate the fundamental building blocks of matter. Science fiction ideas like the space elevator, teleportation, invisibility cloaks, or nanosized molecular machines might soon become a reality. But will we use our unprecedented scientific mastery wisely?

There were two great revolutionary ideas in physics at the turn of the 20th century, relativity and quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is arguably the greater of these. One third of the high-tech industry currently involves devices whose performance relies on quantum theory. Quantum mechanics has also revolutionized our understanding of atoms, molecules, chemistry, and even biology.

The quantum revolution began in 1900 with Max Planck’s explanation of the blackbody spectrum. According to classical physics, a blackbody, i.e. an object which is completely opaque to all forms of radiation, should emit more and more radiation at higher frequencies, in what is known as the ultraviolet catastrophe. By postulating the existence of packets of energy known as quanta, Planck was able to explain the observed blackbody spectrum and avert the ultraviolet catastrophe.

The next breakthrough occurred in 1905, when Einstein explained the photoelectric effect, whereby electrons are emitted from a metal plate upon which light is being shone. Once again, classical physics could not explain the photoelectric effect properly. By postulating the existence of photons, particles of light, Einstein was able to correctly explain the effect.

Neils Bohr was responsible for a third breakthrough in 1913 when he devised a quantum mechanical model of the atom, involving fixed orbitals for the electrons. His model correctly explained the spectrum of hydrogen as well as the stability of atoms, which according to classical physics should be unstable and decay in less than a millionth of a second.

Quantum mechanics culminated in 1925 to 1927 with Heisenberg’s development of matrix mechanics and Schrodinger’s independent development of wave mechanics. By 1927, Heisenberg showed that these two versions of quantum mechanics are equivalent. This version of quantum mechanics has survived to this day.

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