10 Real-world Applications of Quantum Mechanics

1 / 12
by: Jonathan Atteberry
Read more Read less
When you start going subatomic or even smaller, things get strange. That strangeness, however, can lead to some pretty cool inventions.

For thousands of years, humans relied on their intuition to understand how the world works. Sure, the approach may have led to a few mistakes along the way -- it turns out the Earth isn't flat, for instance -- but ultimately it worked fairly well. Slowly but surely, humanity gained an understanding of everything from the laws of motion to thermodynamics, and all of it made intuitive sense.

And then came quantum mechanics, the absolutely baffling branch of physics exploring the very smallest types of matter. The study of quantum mechanics led to some truly astounding conclusions. For instance, scientists found that electrons behave both as waves and as particles, and the mere act of observing them changes the way they behave. Revelations like this one simply defied logic, prompting Einstein to declare "the more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks."

Einstein's sentiments still resonate today, more than a century after humanity's first insights into the quantum world; quantum mechanics makes perfect sense mathematically but defies our intuition at every turn. So it might surprise you that, despite its strangeness, quantum mechanics has led to some revolutionary inventions over the past century and promises to lead to many more in the years to come. Read on to learn about 10 practical applications of quantum mechanics.

More on