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Unit 5: The Quantum World

Unit Overview

This unit covers a field of physics that is simultaneously one of the most powerful, transformational, and precise tools for exploring nature and yet for non-physicists one of the most mysterious and misunderstood aspects of all science. Developed early in the 20th century to solve a crisis in understanding the nature of the atom, quantum mechanics has laid the foundation for theoretical and practical advances in 21st century physics. The unit details the reasoning that led to ever deeper awareness of the nature of particles, waves, and their interrelationships, provides a primer on present-day understanding of the field, and outlines ways in which that understanding has led to significant applications today.