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Classical Physics versus Quantum Physics: An Overview

Hardev Singh Virk


Newtonian mechanics is the foundation of Classical Physics. Newton’s mechanics, Thermodynamics, Wave theory of Optics and Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory belong to regime of Classical Physics and can be used to explain a wide range of phenomena in the Universe at macroscopic scale. These theories fail spectacularly when applied to phenomena in the atomic and nuclear regime, for example, proton-atom scattering or the flow of electrons in a semiconductor. Quantum mechanics is the most successful scientific theory that has ever been created and it has completely changed our view of the world. The failure of Classical Physics was highlighted by black body radiation and photoelectric effect. Max Planck and Albert Einstein provided explanations of both phenomena based on quantum hypothesis and are thus considered founders of Quantum Physics. The origin of quantum mechanics goes back to the mid-1920s. It was formulated first as matrix mechanics by Werner Heisenberg, Max Born and Pascual Jordan; then as wave mechanics by Louis de Broglie and Erwin Schrödinger; and later on as quantum statistics of subatomic particles by Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein. Combining relativistic mechanics with quantum mechanics, Dirac formulated his relativistic quantum mechanics during 1930s. Uncertainty Principle is the cornerstone of Quantum Physics. The role of randomness in microscopic physical processes shatters the myth that the universe is deterministic.  Quantum world is unpredictable in the classical sense and demolishes the idea of an objective universe.  The Copenhagen interpretation remains the quantum mechanical formalism that is currently most widely accepted amongst physicists. Quantum theories support cosmic spirit pervading the cosmos and inter – relationship of individuals in the world society. Quantum philosophy is holistic and is going to revolutionize our world-view.


Keywords: Natural phenomena, Classical physics, Quantum physics, Determinism, Uncertainty principle, Quantum philosophy, Nature of reality

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