In Marvel’s upcoming movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the heroes venture into the quantum realm. That is, the universe on scales smaller than atoms, where the normal laws of physics don’t apply. The technology may not exist for someone to shrink down to this size in real life. But Marvel did get one thing right: The quantum realm is a truly strange place.
For instance, quantum-sized objects can act like bits of matter or like waves. They can exist in more than one place at once. And specially linked, or entangled, quantum particles can mirror each other perfectly, even when they’re on opposite sides of the universe.
These rules of quantum physics may sound like magic tricks. But scientists have observed their effects in the lab. So researchers know that this is how matter and energy on the smallest scales actually behave. The question of why, though, remains one of the biggest mysteries in the universe.
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Play around with quantum concepts in online games from the National Q-12 Education Partnership. Use operations like those found inside a quantum computer to serve hungry customers at a bakery. Or play a Connect Four–like game that explores the relationship between superposition, probability and quantum measurement. These games and others are designed to give middle- and high-school students a fun introduction to the wonder and weirdness of quantum physics.