Exploring the Quantum World: From Plants to Pulsars

Presented by Mike Goldman, Joey Goodknight, and Tansu Daylan

Exploring the Quantum World: From Plants to PulsarsWhat do the interior of an atom, the bottom of a volcanic caldera, and the center of the sun have in common? Mike will begin with an introduction to quantum mechanics, which explores its relationship with our everyday world. Some aspects of the quantum world seem perfectly sensible but other concepts, like superposition, are deeply counterintuitive. Next, Joey will delve into an unexpected discovery in plant photosynthesis. Not only is chlorophyll capable of turning light energy into chemical energy, but it seems to do its job better than classical physics and chemistry would predict! Is it possible that quantum effects like superposition play a role in living organisms? Joey will show us the data and the tools scientists use to investigate this possibility. Finally, Tansu will turn our attention to the skies, and how quantum mechanics can explain the variety of sizes, colors and life stages of stars. While white dwarfs fade slowly, becoming smaller and cooler with time, others reach a critical state that leads to an explosive supernova.

Lecture

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