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Which Fundamental Questions Are Most Fundamental?

Which fundamental questions in physics get your imagination soaring most? Is it the structure of matter? The nature of Space and Time? The possibility of life in space?

This weekend I had an OpEd piece in The New York Times about Quantum Information, the field which captured this years Nobel Prize. In its wake I received a lot of wonderful email from folks who, like me, find quantum's questions nothing short of insane (at least from our classical intuition's perspective).

When I was a young man and my passion for physics was growing I was sure that Relativity, Black Holes and the origin of the Universe would be the questions I would spend my life pondering. Then I hit undergrad and took my first quantum mechanics class. At first I thought they were joking with their uncertainty principles, wave-particle dualities and Schrodinger's cats.

They weren't and the questions I had in that class, the ones everyone has in that class, still haven't been answered.

That is why these days I am kinda, sorta, maybe coming to think that until we understand what Quantum Mechanics is telling us we may not understand much at all.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Adam Frank was a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.

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