Physics? Mechanics? Information?

  • Thread starter Brainguy
  • Start date
  • #1
43
0
Hi, I'm an 11 year old kid and listened to an iPod podcast several months ago that repeatedly reference to a quantum computer. It was painstaking not knowing what it was, so I went in search of good articles on quantum information. I found a very good one that explained about quibits, decoherence, and entanglement. But I needed more. I read books, and other articles about quantum mechanics, or quantum physics. I figured it's all similar if not the same, and found myself reading about blackbody radiation, and the quantum. I had never heard quantum used as a noun before, and could not grasp very much of it. I soon learned that quantum information was pretty much just the study of quantum computers and mechanics was everything else. But I am still looking all over the Internet and piecing together small bits of information, such as entanglement, the double slit experiment, and the fact that collapsing the wave function was just an equally fancy way of saying decoherence. But my question is: where could an 11 year old boy learn quantum mechanics? If I say this anywhere else without specifying that I'm a kid, everyone tells me to take a college course. And obviously I can't do that. Quantum mecheanics is like a dream come true for me because it is a practical application of math, not just: "what is 6-4?" and it is like classical physics, except with all this mysterious superposition, and particles that know when they are being watched, and collapse into one thing when observed? It sounds like fantasy where if mortal eyes try to see the ancient temple. It will assume the form of something they can comprehend. I dont want some sort of private tutor, but maybe like an online tutorial with experiments and photos? If anyone can help please do! Thanks!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
548
1
You are obviously a genius. In my generation. 11 year olds can't speak english as well as you do and they mostly spend time on cowboys and horses. So I think you'd make a good Einstein when you are 26 years old. Try to study the interpretations and figure out the right one for us. Study Copenhagen Interpretation, Many Worlds, de Broglie/Bohmian Mechanics, Objective Collapse, etc. These tell you what actually happen in the double slit rather than pure calculations (called shut up and calculate approach) that is what pure QM is. Google for those interpretations and maybe using your genius brain, you can figure it out and stun the world as the next Einstein with simultaneous discovery of Quantum Gravity :) Go for it, kid!
 
  • #3
980
2
Since you seem self-motivated and able to find resources on your own, I would suggest a path which takes you through physics as practised, and then you can forge your own path from there on. Start with Feynmann's lectures on physics (should be available as a thin 3-vol series in all good libraries), and chase up on references or ideas which don't immediately make sense.
 
  • #4
Fredrik
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,872
416
I'm also impressed by your command of your language at the age of 11, but I strongly disagree that you should study interpretations of quantum mechanics. It doesn't make sense to study the interpretations of the theory until you've studied the actual theory, and you won't be able to do that until you know a lot more math than you probably do know. So I think your main two options should be:

a) Focus on non-mathematical accounts of the theories, i.e. read books like "QED: The strange theory of light and matter" by Richard Feynman and "Black holes and time warps: Einstein's outrageous legacy" by Kip Thorne. (Check out the science books forum for more recommendations).

b) Ignore physics for now and focus on learning math. Try to make it through the high school math books first. I don't know if this will take you months or years, but don't expect it to go really quickly. Then move on to books written for first-year university students. You will have to study introductory texts on calculus and linear algebra. You should also study an introductory text on classical mechanics before you move on to quantum mechanics. (Note that there's a big difference between understanding what a theory says, and being able to calculate what it predicts about results of experiments. I think you should focus on the former until you actually get to the university level, where you will have to pass exams that focus on the latter).

These are not mutually exclusive, so you will probably want to do a little of both. This forum is a great place to ask for help when you get stuck.
 
Last edited:
  • #5
380
1
I have to second Fredrik. It's absolutely GREAT to see that you're so interested in these things, its refreshing to see a kid going somewhere in life. But with that being said there is a foundation of mathematics you must know before you can tackle Quantum. I just finished my second year in an honors Physics degree and am at the top of my class and I still feel uneasy about the coming years when it comes to the math associated with things like QM, Field Theory, and EM. In your position I would start with khanacademy.org and blow through all of the exercises. Once you finish all of that (everything!) then you're ready to start tackling some university level math and physics.
 
  • #6
43
0
tytsm! I am now using Khan academy, going through all the physics excersices there, I found that I really can't get very far in quantum, particle, or classical physics before getting a better understanding of the basic ideas that make it all up. I used to think that atoms consisted of a nucleus with electrons spinning around it. now in order to learn about the things I'm intereseted in, I have to learn about positrons, pieons, quarks, leptons,photons, antie-electrons, and more. Thanks to all who answered, and I probably won't be needing the quantum section for a while, so check the general, classical, and particle sections for my next questions. Thanks!
 

Related Threads on Physics? Mechanics? Information?

  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
19
Views
9K
Replies
4
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
5
Views
650
Replies
1
Views
894
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
833
Top