In this track, we will share ideas and information about Quantum Mechanics structured as follows:
Quantum Mechanics at School:
There are 3 programs being developed for promoting awareness of and instilling an interest in Quantum Mechanics at the School stage.
WhaT02: Why everyone can and should learn Quantum Mechanics? This is an approximately 1 hour WhatsApp live session, available every evening from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
QT01: Teaching Quantum Mechanics at School:is a weekend program for teachers that runs on Saturday and Sunday
QT02: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: is for students that will run over a month ( 4 weeks, 6 days a week).
The default mode for both these courses is through WhatsApp but in cases where it is feasible it could also be delivered as a face to face course.
QT03: Quantum Biology: This is a weeklong WhatsApp delivered program which is a follow up to the introductory program described above, and introduces the learner to this exciting new developing field.
QT04: Quantum Computing : The hottest news now is of Quantum Supremacy, where Google claims and IBM questions that their Quantum Computer can solve a problem in a few minutes that would take tens of thousands of hours on the fastest traditional supercomputer. This weeklong WhatsApp course covers the main features of Qubits, quantum computing and its possible applications and implications.
Teaching Quantum Mechanics at School:equipping students to change the world
Why teach Quantum Mechanics at School ?
Sir John Ziman began the Preface of his well known book “ Principles of the Theory of Solids” (1964 edition),with the following opening lines:
“ The frontiers of knowledge ( to coin a phrase) are always on the move. Today’s discovery will tomorrow be part of the mental furniture of every research worker. By the end of next week it will be in every course of graduate lectures . Within a month there will be a clamour to have it in the undergraduate curriculum. Next year, I do believe, it will seem so commonplace that it may be assumed to be known to every schoolboy.”
In 1930, CV Raman was conferred the Nobel Prize for his discovery of and explanation of the Raman effect ( https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1930/ceremony-speech/) . The following excerpt “ The explanation of this phenomenon, which has received the name of the “Raman effect” after its discoverer, has been found by Raman himself, with the help of the modern conception of the nature of light. According to that conception, light cannot be emitted from or absorbed by material otherwise than in the form of definite amounts of energy or what are known as “light quanta”. Thus the energy of light would possess a kind of atomic character. A quantum of light is proportionate to the frequency of rays of light, so that in the case of a frequency twice as great, the quanta of the rays of light will also be twice as great.” unequivocally acknowledges its quantum nature. We celebrate Raman’s birthday on February 28th as National Science Day, but still don’t teach Quantum Mechanics to a majority of the young.
It is now common to teach all School students Newton’s laws of motion as part of their Science curriculum at Class 8. But it turns out that Quantum Mechanics is not properly introduced even for Physics students in Class 12 of CBSE. This is likely to be true of other State School leaving Boards as well.
The reality is that Quantum Mechanics is all around us and as our young enter the 3rd decade of the 21st Century, they will be seriously constrained if they are not well versed in Quantum Mechanics ( and of course fluent in Computational Thinking and digital tools including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ).
The more ambitious may even be introduced to Topology around the same time that they are introduced to Euclidean geometry.
If you have wondered how birds find their way across thousands of miles of open sky during migration? Or pondered over photosynthesis ( a very important component of the fight against climate change) or how the human sense of smell works, you will be thrilled to know that recently, scientists have been using quantum physics to unravel these and some of nature’s enduring mysteries.
We may introduce the learners to key features of and basic concepts of Quantum Computing. At the bottom of this note I have given the link to an interesting paper ( 2005) that actually derives Newtonian Mechanics from the principles of Quantum mechanics.
We may find that this generation finds it easier to appreciate quanta….. as analogous to pixels….a terminology that they use in the context of their Smartphones.
In addition to concepts like ‘phase’ and superposition,a strange feature of quantum physics to which we can introduce them is entanglement, which Albert Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”. This is when two particles form a connection across an unknown distance, which could be a millimetre or the width of a universe, and one of the particles can vanish from one area and reappear elsewhere.
While entanglement may have appeared “spooky” to Einstein’s brilliant mind, subsequently the scientific community has grappled with that and other counterintuitive aspects of quantum physics.
But despite – or maybe because of – its unusual aspects, quantum physics is improving our understanding of the natural world, to a point where some of these theories can no longer be overlooked.
Quantum research has been selected by the World Economic Forum’s scientific community as one of the most important “future frontiers” in science.
And the emerging field of quantum biology could be the key to explaining the previously inexplicable.
A new study suggests living bacteria can be put into “quantum entanglement”. If bacteria are confirmed to exhibit quantum effects, it would form the first evidence of interplay between macroscopic organic matter and the subatomic quantum world.
We have just heard the news that Google has achieved “ Quantum Supremacy”, something that is being challenged by IBM, but it is reasons to imagine that the learners who are in class 8 or so would see a world of Quantum Computing, Quantum Medicine and maybe fields like “ protein engineering” when they leave School.
If they don’t have to be irrelevant and misfits like the engineers of today …. it is of utmost urgency that we take a lead in this.
We wish to develop a suite of products:
- A 3 hour half-day seminar for School teachers ( Physics) to sensitise then to the importance of this. This will have perhaps 6 sections of 30 minutes each. May be further detailed as we progress.
- A tentative list of topics:
- 1: Quantum Mechanics in everyday life: motivating School students to want to know about Quantum Mechanics
- 2: What are the conceptual and mathematical conceptual and mathematical barriers to teaching Quantum Mechanics at School?
- 3: How Quantum Mechanics explains Newton’s laws of motion : http://www.eftaylor.com/pub/QMtoNewtonsLaws.pdf
- 4: Key concepts of Quantum Mechanics: superposition, Quantum tunnelling, entanglement….
- 5: Quantum Mechanics and Computing
- 6: Available resources (includingincluding videos) to support the teaching of Quantum Mechanics at School
In addition to the above program for teachers, we are working on a short program for students. This is broadly similar to the idea of CBSE to have a 12 hour program on AI awareness which is labelled Inspirational AI.
- This 16 hour ( 24 periods) awareness/ inspirational program introduced at the stage, shortly after when Newtonian Physics is taught. Develop a ToC for this and give it more of a shape in the mid-November meeting.
- Themes that may be covered in this course :
- 1: The timeline of evolution of Quantum Mechanics
- 2: The dramatis personae in the development of the field : Schroedinger, Max Born, Neils Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac…..
- 3: The Raman effect and its significance
- 4: Quantum Mechanics in everyday life
- 5: The key concepts of Quantum Mechanics
- 6: The Mathematical toolkit for Quantum Mechanics
- 7: Features of Quantum Mechanics: Superposition, Quantum tunnelling, Entanglement
- 8: Large scale quantum phenomena: lasers, superconductivity and superfluidity
- 9: Quantum Biology
- 10: Quantum Computing ( Quantum Supremacy)
- A compendium of resources for the keen motivated, self-driven learner.
- Have these ready by January 2020. After running these for 6 months, then review again in July 2020.
An interesting article, also referred to in the above text :
Quantum Physics explains Newton’s laws of motion : https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0031-9120/40/1/001
The pdf version of the article : http://www.eftaylor.com/pub/QMtoNewtonsLaws.pdf
Why everyone can and should learn Quantum Mechanics : https://www.salon.com/2018/11/18/why-everyone-can-and-should-learn-quantum-mechanics/