Three Ways Quantum Physics Affects Your Daily Life

Quantum physics is arguably the greatest intellectual triumph in the history of human civilization, but to most people it seems like it’s too remote and abstract to matter. This is largely a self-inflicted wound on the part of physicists and pop-science writers: when we talk about quantum physics, we usually emphasize the weird and counter-intuitive phenomena: Schrödinger’s cat in a superposition of “alive” and “dead,” Einstein’s objection to God playing dice, the weird long-distance correlations of quantum entanglement.

These things are exciting because they’re exotic, but investigating them in the lab requires isolating very simple quantum systems, and it can be hard to see any connection between these phenomena and everyday life.

In fact, though, quantum physics is all around us. The universe as we know it runs on quantum rules, and while the classical physics that emerges when you apply quantum physics to enormously huge numbers of particles seem very different, there are lots of familiar, everyday phenomena that owe their existence to quantum effects. Here are a few examples of things you probably run into in your everyday life without realizing that they’re quantum:

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