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Quantum Mechanics and the Standard Model

Dr Kate Lancaster introduces the principles of quantum mechanics and the standard model of particle physics.

This week we will be exploring the quantum world and delving into the realm of particle physics.

We will start by investigating quantum phenomena. As Kate explains in the video above, in quantum physics particles (like electrons) can behave like waves and waves (such as light) can behave as particles. Depending on the situation, sometimes the particle nature will be visible and sometimes the wave nature will be visible. However, both parts are equally real and significant. We refer to this as wave-particle duality. We briefly encountered this topic last week when we learned about electron microscopy. This week, we will explore the implications of wave-particle duality as our first topic.

We will then look at particles in more detail. We are already familiar with the atom in which positive protons and neutral neutrons make up nuclei, surrounded by negative electrons. However, whilst electrons are considered to be a fundamental particle, protons and neutrons are made of particles called quarks. These are just one of the classes of particle in the Standard Model, which does much more than just describe the building blocks of atoms: it describes all of the fundamental particles we know.

We’ll then apply our understanding of quantum and particle physics to look at advances in medical technologies, before finishing the week with the exciting discovery of a new particle, the d* hexaquark, that might have big implications for our understanding of the universe.

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Frontier Physics, Future Technologies

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