Quantum mechanics: a branch of physics that is, to many, confusing and misunderstood. It encompasses and deals with the actions and interactions between energy and both subatomic particles and atoms.
In other words: how nature operates on an extremely small scale. Quantum mechanics helps us understand both how life works on Earth and beyond. How everything from light to the molecules that make up human beings function and interact.
So, can one simple experiment explain quantum mechanics? Perhaps. Veritasium, on YouTube, has created a video that they think can really show people what quantum mechanics is.
The video description aptly quotes Richard Feynman, famed theoretical physicist, in saying, “I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics.” While understanding how it works is perhaps a little more than a single video can take on, the demonstration at least gives viewers a better idea of what quantum mechanics is.
The experiment involves placing silicone oil drops onto a vibrating bath. While the droplets are obviously too big to be considered part of a quantum system, this strange experiment visualizes pilot wave theory which says that particles oscillate, producing waves, and this interaction creates the particle’s motion.
This theory tries to explain the weird — and often contradictory — behaviors of particles. This explanation can be better understood by watching the silicon drops create waves and interact with them in the video above. With something as difficult to grasp as quantum mechanics, it’s often helpful when you can actually see what it is you’re talking — or theorizing — about.