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The microscopic world of particles — such as atoms, electrons, and photons — is ruled by quantum mechanics (QM). It’s a wild world where particles become waves, waves become particles, and our understanding of how physical objects behave is challenged to the core.
This course explores the fascinating findings scientists have uncovered about how quantum particles operate. Can a particle really be in 2 places at once? Can Schrödinger’s cat really be both dead and alive at the same time? The mathematics of probabilities underlies much of quantum theory. Does this mean that particles really behave in random ways, or do we use probabilities to account for our own lack of knowledge?
The course builds on several of the foundational quantum concepts in order to explain why metals are metallic and why superconductors can conduct electricity without losing energy. Throughout the course, you will discover multiple applications of quantum mechanics to your everyday life, including magnets, color vision and lighting, and the exquisitely accurate quantum clocks that govern the global positioning system (GPS).
By the time you complete this course, you will gain an appreciation for the incredible beauty and mystery that underlie quantum phenomena, and you will gain an understanding of what we know — and what we don’t yet know — about the quantum world.
The class will be based on selected lectures from: • The Great Courses “Understanding the Quantum World” by Erica Carlson • The Great Courses “Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World” by Benjamin Schumacher
Instructor(s): John McCauley, Juan Gallardo, Charles Buchanan
John retired from IBM after 43 years working in the development of Computer Mainframe Systems and Enterprise Storage Systems. John worked for NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama while an undergraduate student at Purdue University. John's formal education is in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Since retirement, John has been active in developing science courses at OLLI-UA.
Juan Gallardo is a retired physicist from Brookhaven National Laboratory (NY) since 2012. He has been an SGL for the last 3 1/2 years. He has led study groups on literature and physics.
Charles Buchanan has a BS from Reed College and a Ph.D. in experimental high energy particle physics from Stanford University. He was Professor of Physics at UCLA for 41 years, working at SLAC (Stanford), FermiLab (Illinois), CERN (Switzerland) and on a rare collaborative project between the USSR and UCLA in 1971. His specialty is the physics of electron-positron collisions. His continuing interest is in communicating frontier modern physics in laymen's terms. He also has interests in local Tucson and educational activities.
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