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Science misnomer #1: use of the term “quantum leap”.

Science misnomer #1: use of the term “quantum leap”.The phrase “quantum leap” is most often used by people who know sod all about quantum mechanics. Usually what they mean to say is that whatever they’re talking about provides a huge step forward. If they knew anything, they would know that quantum mechanics is the study of subatomic particle interactions.

By its own definition, a quantum leap is a miniscule jump. The classic example is a single atom; when it absorbs a certain amount of energy, an electron orbiting the nucleus instantly jumps from a low energy state to a higher energy state. An excited electron can also fall back to a lower energy state while spontaneously emitting a photon in the process. These are said to be quantum leaps as they involve discreet, discontinuous energy levels. Ironically, I first heard the phrase “quantum leap” being used by an ignorant science tv show presenter.

In physics, a quantum leap or quantum jump is a change of an electron from one energy state to another within an atom….. In real physical systems a quantum leap is not necessarily a large change, and can in fact be very insignificant….. In the popular sense, the term is usually applied to mean a large or significant change, which is thus not strictly correct.

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