Questions for ‘The quantum world is mind-bogglingly weird’


At the quantum scale, things can appear as particles or waves and exist in more than one place at once.


To accompany feature “The quantum world is mind-bogglingly weird”


Before Reading

1.  Have you ever heard the word “quantum”? Where have you heard it? What do you think it means?

2.  What is smaller than an atom? What is an atom made of? And how small do you think this is?

During Reading:

1.  What is a photon?

2.  What is a quantum computer? Why might a quantum computer run faster than the computer you use today?

3.  What is absolute zero?

4.  What does it mean for two particles to be entangled?

5.  Why do scientists who study quantum theory use thought experiments?

6.  What was Schrödinger’s cat? Based on the story, how is that cat like a particle in quantum physics?

7.  How do scientists test whether two particles are entangled?

8.  What is the record distance for entangled particles (as of when this story was published)?

9.  Why can’t particles — or messages between particles — travel faster than the speed of light?

After Reading

1.  Some physicists are happy to work with quantum theory without really understanding why it works. Others want to know how it all works. If you were a physicist, which camp would you fall into and why? Would you be content to just follow the recipe? Or do you want to know why that recipe makes a great cake?

2.  There are many people around the world studying quantum theory and its applications. They spend a lot of money doing this. Is it worth the time, effort and money? Why or why not? Use evidence from the story to support your answer.


1.  Two entangled particles sit 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) apart in two different labs. Suppose that the particles are communicating with each other. The message is reported to take 1 millisecond to travel between the particles. How fast is that in kilometers (or miles) per hour? Is that slower or faster than the speed of light? Show your work.