quantum physics

Some general ideas in very few words and without equations.

Why did physicists at the beginning of the 20th century feel they needed a new — and strange — theory?

Here's a quick introduction to the most famous cat in the history of science. We hope it whets your appetite for quantum mechanics!

A very strange way of explaining away the strangeness of quantum mechanics.

This is the second article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After successfully applying quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field, physicists faced a problem of boundless proportions: every calculation they made returned infinity as the answer.

You may have heard of quantum theory and you probably know what a field is. But what is quantum field theory? This article traces the development of quantum electrodynamics in the first half of the 20th century. Hair raising difficulties, heroic struggle and illustrious characters — this story has it all!

This is the third article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After struggling with a theory plagued by unwieldy infinities an ingenious trick put QED back on track.

This is the last article in a four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After a breakthrough that tamed QED in theory, the stick-like drawings known as Feynman diagrams, policed by a young Freeman Dyson, made the theory useable.

In February this year we were lucky enough to interview Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, USA. Dyson is now 89 and still does physics every day in his first floor office at the Institute. Here is an edited version of our interview that we hope conveys his generous nature, wit and intellect.

Space is the stage on which physics happens. It's unaffected by what happens in it and it would still be there if everything in it disappeared. This is how we learn to think about space at school. But the idea is as novel as it is out-dated.