Quantum Physics and the Favourite Story

Word cloud
Before I start, I'd just like to state that unlike my favourite stories, quantum physics isn't fictitious. I draw the comparison because of what both mean to me, not what they are.

I've been an avid reader since I was very, very young. Owing to the hundreds of books on my shelves (and my desk and my floor - I am not particularly organised), I don't really re-read books as much as I used to, but back when I was younger and didn't have the independence to buy every book I laid my eyes on, I would return over and over again to my favourite stories. Even though I knew the plot back to front and inside out, I still loved returning to it and discovering something new; I loved going on the emotional and intellectual journey I knew so well, and I loved deepening my understanding each time.

I'm in my last but one year before I leave school (I'm not as stupid as I am young), and part of our course involves studying the very simplest of quantum physics. Having read far too many pop physics books for my own good, I know a little about the qualitative basis of quantum physics (though I haven't studied most of the maths yet).

Ordinarily, when I already know something and the teacher goes over it in class I have trouble enjoying the lesson (I enjoy learning, I know, I'm sad) or even paying attention. With quantum physics, it's different: I know the limits of my own knowledge but I'm also excited to go over the same things I knew before, because, well...

What I think are tracks from cloud chambers
...Quantum physics is just weird. That's what it comes down to. Quantum physics is weird and incomprehensible and totally counterintuitive unless you're a physicist.

Oh, and it also happens to be one of our best models of what we can observe and comes complete with mathematical explanations for why quantum weirdness doesn't show up on a macroscopic scale.

Quantum physics: It's crazy
This is what I love so much about it. I love the weirdness and I love the challenge of trying to understand this weirdness. I love having to train my brain to think in counterintuitive ways, and to follow the maths. I love being able to interpret the mathematical equations and think through their consequences; to me, there's something so beautiful in how just a few quantities can dictate universal laws.

I love quantum physics because it explains the world we know on a grand scale. Maybe that sounds stupid considering that quantum physics generally works on a subatomic scale, but those subatomic particles and waves make up our macroscopic universe. The way things come together on that level determines how the rest of the observable universe works - if it's even there at all.