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The Quantum Divide

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The Quantum Divide

Why Schrodinger’s Cat is Either Dead or Alive

Oxford UP,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory of the physical world – and some of its conclusions are strange.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Engaging


Human beings like to divide and classify. The natural sciences divide into physics, chemistry and biology. Physics divides as well, between Newton’s classical mechanics of the ordinary, everyday world, and quantum mechanics, which deals with atoms, protons, electrons, photons and even smaller particles. The worlds of classical physics and quantum mechanics differ radically. The compelling question is where and how the two come together. This dense, challenging book illuminates a fascinating theory that affects information technology’s future.


Physics, chemistry and biology are all natural sciences, and physics is the most fundamental.

The natural sciences divide broadly into physics, chemistry and biology. Each of these sciences has its own body of knowledge and methodologies, and you can study and research them separately. Subcategories exist within these broader categories. The physics of the macroscopic world includes planetary movement and bowling ball movement, and Newton describes them in his “classical laws of physics.” The microscopic world – atoms, photons and other, even more basic particles – is the realm of quantum physics. Different laws govern there.

Scientists widely regard quantum mechanics to be the more basic, foundational theory. Somehow, however, the macroscopic world that classical physics describes must emerge from the microscopic, quantum world. The question is how to draw a line between the classical and the quantum – and whether that dividing line exists at all.

Classical physics depicts large objects’ behavior, while quantum physics addresses the microscopic world.

Physics is the most basic science. By the turn of the 20th century, the truth of classical physics as...

About the Authors

Christopher C. Gerry is a professor of physics at Lehman College, City University of New York. Kimberley M. Bruno is vice principal of the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design in Brooklyn, New York.

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