Quantum particles are like boos

If there’s one single subreddit that’s worth subscribing to, it’s /r/explainlikeimfive. The subreddit aims at answering to questions like you’re explaining to a 5 year old, i.e. in a language that everyone can understand.

When I come across a good explanation I clip them to my evernote. I was going through some notes today and came across this clip from a post that dated about two months back. The post explains the work of 2012 Nobel prize winners. There is an explanation that says quantum particles behave differently when we observe them. Someone raises the reasonable question “How do they know they are doing something different when we don’t observe them if we can’t observe them without affecting them previously?” Look at the explanation it got (permalink):

super mario boos

It’s like the boos in Mario. Whenever you look at (measure) them, they stop moving (act like particles). When you look away, they chase you (act like waves). When you look at them again, they’re somewhere totally different.

And just like boos, sometimes they go through walls. But only when you’re not looking.

Exactly what a 5-year would need to understand what’s going on. What’s more, it explains a scientific principle so brilliantly that any of us can understand (albeit it may not be 100% technically correct).

I highly recommend reading the whole thread.

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