Quantum Quandaries

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Quantum Quandaries
Physics & Study Event
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Quantum Quandaries is a Division C event last run as a trial event at the 2006 National Tournament. It relates to quantum mechanics and other areas in modern physics, such as nuclear and particle physics.


The event is run as multiple stations, with a portion of those stations involving laboratory tasks (at the state and national level). Students are allowed to bring any type of calculator, along with two 8.5"x11" sheets of notes (front and back). Other notes may be provided at the event coordinator's discretion.

Quantum Mechanics and Technology


One of the main principles of quantum mechanics is the idea that nothing is certain. This is reflected in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which states that you can only measure up to a certain point position and energy. If you measure with an arbitrary amount of accuracy position, you are unable to determine arbitrarily energy, and vice versa. One other principle is wave-particle duality. This was discovered in part by Young's double-slit experiment and states that photons can be both a wave and a particle, depending on what state it has been detected at.

Photoelectric Effect

When a beam of light hits a piece of metal, photons can be ejected from its path. This is a sign of the photoelectric effect. This occurs because photons free electrons that are in the orbitals of the metal, thus allowing the photon to escape with a certain energy that correlates to the energy difference needed to free the electron. This discovery was what got Albert Einstein a Nobel Price in 1927.

Spectral Lines


Electron Microscopes

Relativity and Cosmology

Black Holes

The Big Bang

Around 13 billion years ago, the universe began in a blast of energy called the Big Bang. The Big Bang started from an infinitesimal point of space and began to expand over time. As it cooled, particles began to form and the structure of the Universe began to become more apparent. The Big Bang can be divided into 3 main time periods.

Lorentz Transformations

Twin Paradox

Gravitational Lensing

Nuclear and Particle Physics

Standard Model

The Standard Model allows one to correlate the forces and the particles that govern the forces. There are two main types of particles in the Standard Model: leptons and baryons.

Fundamental Particles

Fission and Fusion

Unified Field Theory


All portions of the event are assigned point values based on difficulty, with certain questions being designated as tiebreaker problems. Points are awarded for correct answers, and partial credit may be available depending on the question.