This recent posting on LinkedIn’s Theoretical Physics group led to much meandering discussion to no discernable clarity. Einstein’s admission to bafflement does not deter every Tom, Dick, or Harry from his own interpretation, of course, but maybe some clarification is possible.

With this in mind, I went to Wikipedia for guidance.

from **Wikipedia**(12/26/18)

*In **physics**, a quantum(plural: quanta) is the minimum amount of any physical entity (*

*physical property*

*) involved in an*

*interaction*

*. The fundamental notion that a physical property may be “quantized” is referred to as “the hypothesis of*

*quantization*

*“.*

*[1]*

*This means that the magnitude of the physical property can take on only discrete values consisting of integer multiples of one quantum.*

*For example, a **photo**n is a single quantum of **ligh**t (or of any other form of **electromagnetic radiatio**n). Similarly, the energy of an **electro**n bound within an**ato**m is quantized and can exist only in certain discrete values. (Indeed, atoms and matter in general are stable because electrons can exist only at discrete energy levels within an atom.) *

I tried to find experimental evidence for this last assertion, but was unsuccessful. Wikipedia goes on:

*Quantization is one of the foundations of the much broader physics of **quantum mechanic**s. Quantization of energy and its influence on how energy and matter interact **(quantum electrodynamic**s) is part of the fundamental framework for understanding and describing nature**.*

So, what, then, is quantization? The best answer I can seem to find is that it is the arbitrary assignment of a numerical value to some unit of a quantity, or force , or value. And who knows what it means? It seems it can be interpreted at will, by whomever, and may or may not be agreed upon.

Again, from Wikipedia:

*The word quantum comes from the **Latin**quantus, meaning “how great”. “Quanta”, short for “quanta of electricity” (electrons), was used in a 1902 article on the photoelectric effect by **Philipp Lenard**, who credited **Hermann von Helmholtz**for using the word in the area of electricity. However, the word quantum in general was well known before 1900. It was often used by **physicians**, such as in the term **quantum satis**. Both Helmholtz and **Julius von Mayer**were physicians as well as physicists. Helmholtz used quantum with reference to heat in his article on Mayer’s work, and the word quantum can be found in the formulation of the **first law of thermodynamics**by Mayer in his letter dated July 24, 1841** *

*In 1901,**Max Planc**k used quanta to mean “quanta of matter and electricity”**,**gas, and heat**.**In 1905, in response to Planck’s work and the experimental work of Lenard (who explained his results by using the term quanta of electricity),**Albert Einstei**n suggested that**radiatio**n existed in spatially localized packets which he called**“quanta of light**” (“Lichtquanta”)**.*

*The concept of quantization of radiation theory was discovered in 1900 b**y Max Plan**ck, who had been trying to understand the emission of radiation from heated objects, known a**s black-body radiati**on. By assuming that energy can be absorbed or released only in tiny, differential, discrete packets (which he called “bundles”, or “energy elements”**), **Planck accounted for certain objects changing colour when heate**d.**On December 14, 1900, Planck reported hi**s findin**gs to th**e German Physical Socie**ty, and introduced the idea of quantization for the first time as a part of his research on black-body radiatio**n.[**As a result of his experiments, Planck deduced the numerical value of h, known as th**e Planck consta**nt, and reported more precise values for the unit o**f electrical char**ge and th**e Avogadro–Loschmidt numb**er, the number of real molecules in **a mo**le, to the German Physical Society. After his theory was validated, Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery in 191**8.*

The original use of the term,*quantum satis*(the amount which is enough) can easily have meaning in an analog universe, that is, as the quantity, level, intensity, etc., required to achieve detection. This interpretation requires a standard variable to be set and modified, upgraded as methodology improves. In a sine wave, for instance, if detection occurs only when a value achieves a certain positive level, the result can be mistakenly interpreted as a series of separated point values, which have been artificially cut off at their lower values.

Wikipedia’s list of usage examples (in physics) follows, not to speak of “quantum leap”

*Elementary particle*

*Gr**a**viton*

*Intro**d**uction to quantum mechanics*

*Magnetic**flux quantum*

*Photon*

*Phot**o**n polariz**a**tion*

*Quantization (phy**s**ics)*

*Quantum cellular aut**o**mata*

*Quantum channel*

*Quantum**coherence*

*Quantum **c**hromodynamics*

*Quantu**m**computer*

*Quantum cryptog**r**aphy*

*Quantum dot*

*Qu**a**ntum electrodynamics*

*Qu**a**ntum electroni**c**s*

*Quantum entanglement*

*Qua**n**tum Field Theory*

*Quant**u**m immortality*

*Quantum l**i**thography*

*Quantum Mecha**n**ics*

*Quantum number*

*Qua**n**tum Optics*

*Quantum sen**s**or*

*Quantum state*

*Sub**a**tomic particle*

*Qu**a**ntum teleportatio**n*

(Each of these has a Wikipedia page!)

Planck’s defining of (not “discovery of”) energy quanta led to the almost immediate conflation or misinterpretation that energy only *existed*as quanta, that is, that it could not be considered as a continuous phenomenon. Which is where we got the photon, and the (false) truism of “wave-particle duality,” the subject of millions of words of explanation throughout the literature. But, it was convenient for the math, so it stuck, and bedevils us to this day. Understanding light as a wave phenomenon also explains in simple terms the famous double slit experiment (you can look it up *here*) as simple diffraction mechanics, not as mysterious particle-jumping-around behavior. Physics does not need made up mystery. There will always be enough to go around without the need to make them up out of thin air.

Who benefits from made-up mysteries? Maybe the academic programs, if you look at how many graduate students are studying string theory. When I ask these questions on the theoretical physics websites, half of what I get back are mathematical equations, which explain nothing.