1. What is the difference between classical and quantum mechanics?
  2. Explain fundamental quantum physics terminology in simple words.
  3. Is it possible to observe quantum effects on the macroscopic scale?
  4. Does quantum theory fully explain how the world works?
  5. What is the best way to understand quantum mechanics?
  6. How did the neural network do on the questions?

What is the difference between classical and quantum mechanics?

ChatGPT’s response:

Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are different ways of understanding how things move.

Classical mechanics is like the rules you follow when you play with a ball, you know if you push it hard, it will go far, if you push it gently, it won't go as far, and it will stop eventually. These rules help you predict how things move, and they work well for big things like planets and cars.

Quantum mechanics is like the rules you follow when you play with tiny things, like little marbles. These rules are different from the ones you use with the ball. In fact, some things that happen when you play with tiny things might seem strange or confusing. For example, sometimes the marbles might act like waves, and sometimes they might act like little balls. And even if you measure something about a tiny thing, like its position, you can never be completely sure what its speed is at the same time.

So, classical mechanics is the set of rules that works for big things, and quantum mechanics is the set of rules that works for tiny things.

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

Explain fundamental quantum physics terminology in simple words.

ChatGPT’s response:

What is wave-particle duality? One of the key concepts in quantum mechanics is the wave-particle duality, which states that particles such as electrons and photons can exhibit both wave-like and particle-like behavior. To visualize this, imagine a wave moving through water, and then imagine that the wave is made of particles that can interact with each other. You can also explore interactive simulations of the double-slit experiment, which demonstrates the wave-like behavior of quantum particles.

What is the uncertainty principle? Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is another important concept in quantum mechanics, which states that it is impossible to simultaneously know the position and velocity of a particle with arbitrary precision. It's like trying to figure out the exact position of a person and how fast they're moving at the same time – the more you know about one, the less you know about the other.

In quantum mechanics, this principle applies to things like the position and momentum of subatomic particles like electrons. The more precisely you measure the position of an electron, the less precisely you can know its momentum, and vice versa. This means that there is always a fundamental limit to our ability to make certain measurements with absolute accuracy.

The Uncertainty Principle arises from the wave-particle duality of quantum mechanics, which means that subatomic particles can behave both like waves and like particles. This dual nature means that the position and momentum of particles cannot be known with absolute certainty at the same time.

What is quantum entanglement? Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two particles can become correlated in a way that is not possible in classical physics. When you measure the state of one particle, the state of the other particle is instantaneously determined, regardless of the distance between them.

What is superposition? Superposition is the idea that quantum particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously. Imagine you have a coin that you flip to decide whether you're going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a turkey sandwich for lunch. In classical physics, the coin can only be in one state at a time – heads or tails. But in quantum mechanics, the coin can be in both states at the same time!

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

Is it possible to observe quantum effects on the macroscopic scale?

ChatGPT’s response:

Most of the effects of quantum mechanics are typically observed at the microscopic scale and are not directly visible at the human scale. However, there are some notable examples of quantum effects that can be seen on a larger scale, albeit indirectly or through technological applications. Here are a few examples:

Superconductivity. Superconductivity is a quantum phenomenon in which certain materials can conduct electricity with zero resistance at very low temperatures. This effect is exploited in numerous applications, including MRI machines, particle accelerators, and electric power transmission.

Quantum cryptography. Quantum mechanics allows for the creation of secure communication protocols that are guaranteed to be immune to eavesdropping, thanks to the principles of quantum entanglement and superposition. Although quantum cryptography is still a nascent technology, it has the potential to revolutionize information security.

Quantum computing. Quantum computers are devices that use the principles of quantum mechanics to perform certain computations much faster than classical computers. Although still in their early stages, quantum computers have the potential to revolutionize fields such as cryptography, optimization, and material science.

Quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling is a phenomenon in which a particle can pass through a barrier that is classically impenetrable. This effect has been observed in numerous technological applications, including the scanning tunneling microscope, which allows researchers to image and manipulate individual atoms.

Photosynthesis. The process of photosynthesis, which converts light energy into chemical energy in plants, relies on quantum coherence and entanglement to achieve its remarkable efficiency. Understanding the quantum mechanics of photosynthesis has the potential to inspire new approaches to solar energy conversion.

Does quantum theory fully explain how the world works?

ChatGPT’s response: 

Quantum theory is a fundamental theory of physics that has been extremely successful in describing the behavior of subatomic particles and their interactions with light and other forms of radiation. Quantum mechanics has been tested and verified in countless experiments, and is the foundation of much of modern technology.

However, while quantum theory has been tremendously successful in its domain of applicability, it does not purport to provide a complete or final explanation of the world. In particular, quantum mechanics does not address some of the most profound questions in physics, such as the nature of space and time, the origin of the universe, or the ultimate nature of reality.

Moreover, there are still many open questions and challenges in the interpretation of quantum mechanics, and some of the theory's predictions and implications are still the subject of debate and investigation. For example, the question of how to reconcile the probabilistic and non-local aspects of quantum mechanics with classical physics and our common sense notions of reality remains an active area of research.

What is the best way to understand quantum mechanics?

ChatGPT’s response: 

Understanding quantum mechanics requires some familiarity with mathematical concepts such as linear algebra, differential equations, and calculus. However, even without a strong background in mathematics, there are several approaches that can help you understand the basic principles and concepts of quantum mechanics. Here are a few suggestions:

Start with the basics. Before diving into the more complex aspects of quantum mechanics, it's important to have a solid grasp of the basics, including the wave-particle duality, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the Schrödinger equation. There are many excellent introductory textbooks and online resources that can provide a gentle introduction to these concepts. 

Develop your intuition. While quantum mechanics can be counterintuitive, it's important to develop an intuition for the basic principles and concepts of the theory. This can involve thinking through thought experiments, working through example problems, and visualizing the behavior of quantum systems.

Learn through visualization. Visualizing the behavior of quantum systems can be a powerful way to understand the theory. There are many online resources and simulations that can help you visualize the behavior of quantum particles, including the double-slit experiment and quantum entanglement.

Explore different interpretations. There are several different interpretations of quantum mechanics, each of which offers a different perspective on the theory. Exploring these different interpretations can help you develop a deeper understanding of the theory and its implications.

Connect with others. Finally, it can be helpful to connect with others who are interested in quantum mechanics, whether through online forums, discussion groups, or in-person meetups. Sharing ideas and insights with others can be a powerful way to deepen your understanding of the theory. 

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

Illustration by Dmitry Lisovsky / ITMO.NEWS

How did the neural network do on the questions?

Fact-checking by Georgii Sizykh, a PhD student and an engineer at the Faculty of Physics

The first thing to note is that the answers are factually correct. While some topics may require additional clarification, overall the neural network is accurate.

Somewhat surprisingly, its real-life examples need some work. I still don’t see how marbles illustrate the differences between classical and quantum mechanics. Its explanation of quantum entanglement is pretty good, though, even if it is incredibly simplified. Meanwhile, I’m very happy with its answer to whether quantum physics fully explains the world.

Overall, I would describe these answers as that of a straight-A student who memorized the entirety of the theory but can’t reliably come up with proper examples to illustrate it.

I also want to say that ChatGPT’s advice on how best to understand quantum mechanics is simply excellent. I think that is a really good way to begin learning quantum physics. I followed a different approach when I started out, and the consequences still affect me to this day.

All in all, quantum mechanics shouldn’t be demonized. Yes, it is true that some phenomena are indeed hard to visualize, and scientists to this day do not have a complete explanation of everything that is going on. But at some level, we can achieve an understanding of how the world operates at that scale.