Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” has made physics sexy again. For me, the film was an absolute highlight because many great physicists of the 20th century and quantum mechanics made guest appearances – gold for a fangirl like me! I went to the cinema with my physicist friends and afterwards, we discussed who we recognised. But there were also some details in the film that perhaps not everyone noticed or that there was more to them than meets the eye. That’s why I’m sharing ten things with you today that you may have missed in Oppenheimer.
I recently read the book “The Circle” by Dave Eggers. It’s about a Facebook-Twitter-like Internet company called “The Circle” that wants to create complete transparency and networking – privacy, unfortunately, falls by the wayside. The quote above is by one of the Circle bosses and he uses it to justify his ubiquitous surveillance. I am sure that we would all answer this question affirmatively. We behave differently under surveillance than when we are alone. So does that mean that pure observation influences our behaviour?
As Andy Williams sang: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas – the Nobel Prizes were awarded! This year, the Nobel Prize Committee had a special gift for us: A Nobel Prize for Quantum Physics! Exactly 10 years after the last big Nobel Prize was awarded to the quantum physicists Serge Haroche and David Wineland. No question that we have to take a closer look.
Sometimes you have to make a choice. Some things you hate, for example, or you love them. Like Brussels sprouts, marzipan or Big Brother. In other cases, you have to take sides: Cats or dogs, Edward or Jacob, wave or particle. But as unlikely as it may sound, sometimes you can be two things at once. Although when this happens in the very foundations of physics, it can start heated discussions. Like at the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein threw light into a deep identity crisis: wave or particle, which is it?
Is Einstein the father of quantum physics? Although most people associate him with the theory of relativity, Einstein made significant contributions to the development of quantum physics. In fact, he received his Nobel Prize in 1921 not for the theory of relativity, but for his explanation of the photoelectric effect – one of the key experiments in quantum physics. And like many discoveries in physics, this one was pure chance.