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6 GIFs That Explain The Quantum Physics Nobel Prize

Two physicists just won the Nobel Prize for their work isolating quantum particles. WTF does that mean? Here are some GIFs that will explain it all.

Posted on October 9, 2012, at 4:29 p.m. ET

Quantum Particles Are Like This Balloon

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They do all this cool, inexplicable stuff that scientists would d like to study. The problem is that as soon as they interact with non-quantum particles (represented here by cats), they pop back into regular, boring Newtonian physics.

The tricky thing is to isolate them in a way that doesn't expose them to non-quantum particles, but also lets you see what's going on.

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That way you can get a really close look at every change, like so.

David Wineland does that by trapping ions and bombarding them with photons.

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The portable toilet represents an ion.

Serge Haroche, the other winner, did the same thing by trapping photons and sending ions after them.

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Kind of like this snake. If it were an ion.

And now they both get $600,000 to keep doing it.

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Yeah, science.

These observations are the key toward building a quantum computer, a theoretical setup that would supply infinite processing power.

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INFINITE POWER! It's not the only thing you can do with this stuff, but it's the coolest thing.

This looks like how it would feel.

Still got questions? Here's a longer, non-GIF explanation.

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