Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

B Does quantum mechanics explain why subatomic particles behave the way they do?

  1. Mar 16, 2016 #1
    For example, general relativity relates the behavior of gravity the the deformation of spadetime. But does quantum mechanics explain why particles behave the way they do? Or does it only explain how processes such as entanglement work not why they occur.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Welcome to PhysicsForums, KarminValso1724!

    Generally speaking, the answer to your question is no. The consensus is that QM explains (or describes or predicts) the behavioral outcomes of a statistical ensemble of particles. Past that, there is much speculation but no consensus.
  4. Mar 16, 2016 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    In a sense QM is a meta theory that sits on top of other theories:
    'So, what is quantum mechanics? Even though it was discovered by physicists, it's not a physical theory in the same sense as electromagnetism or general relativity. In the usual "hierarchy of sciences" -- with biology at the top, then chemistry, then physics, then math -- quantum mechanics sits at a level between math and physics that I don't know a good name for. Basically, quantum mechanics is the operating system that other physical theories run on as application software (with the exception of general relativity, which hasn't yet been successfully ported to this particular OS). There's even a word for taking a physical theory and porting it to this OS: "to quantize."'

    Its basic essence is its what's called a generalised probability model. Its the simplest one that allows continuous transformations between so called pure states:

    The real issue with QM isn't this particles can be in two places at once stuff and similar sensationalist claims in the popular press. Its that the probability model that is QM is applied to observations that occur in an assumed common sense classical world. How a theory that assumes such from the start explains such a world is the real issue with QM. Great progress has been made in that - but a few issues remain. Start a new thread if you want to pursue it.

  5. Mar 17, 2016 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Science never "explains" nature but it describes it as accurately as possible, and quantum theory so far describes very well nearly everything. The only thing we cannot describe yet in a satisfactory way with quantum theory is gravity.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted