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.
Would you stake your fortune on a 100 to 1 outsider? Probably not. But what if, somewhere in a parallel universe, the straggling nag does come in first? Would the pleasure you feel in that universe outweigh the pain you feel in the one in which you've lost? Questions not dissimilar to this one occupy physicists and for entirely respectable reasons.
Hugh Everett III is the father of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. He published the idea in his PhD thesis but died before it gained the recognition it deserves. This article gives an insight into Everett's difficult life.
Are there parallel universes? In the latest online poll of our Science fiction, science fact project you told us that you'd like an answer to this question. So we spoke to physicists Adrian Kent and David Wallace to find out more. Happy reading!
A team of physicists have curbed the hope that quantum physics might be squared with common sense. At least if we want to hang on to Einstein's highly respected theory of relativity. Their result concerns what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" and it may soon be possible to test their prediction in the lab.
The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for ground-breaking work in quantum optics. By probing the world at the smallest scales they've shed light on some of the biggest mysteries of physics and paved the way for quantum computers and super accurate clocks.
In the first article of this series we introduced Schrödinger's
equation and in the second we saw it in action using a simple example. But how should
we interpret its solution, the wave function? What does it tell us
about the physical world?