## Quantum Leap

Some people think that a quantum leap is a particularly large leap. This is incorrect. In fact, in quantum physics, where the expression came from, a quantum leap is usually a very tiny leap indeed, often smaller than the diameter of the nucleus of an atom.

So what is a quantum leap? A quantum leap is a leap from A to B, without passing through any of the points between A and B. Imagine that you enter a train in A-ville. You sit in your seat, and the train is instantly transported to your destination of B-ville. You just made a quantum leap. The train didn't pass through any point between A-ville and B-ville.

A train on tracks is essentially a one-dimensional system. The quantum leap idea works just as well in 2 to 3 dimensions. Something performs a quantum leap if it goes directly from some point A to some other point B, without passing through any other points from the time it left A to the time it arrived at B.

Cartoon characters can perform quantum leaps, very easily. In fact, the art of cartooning is mainly involved in making the characters seem to move smoothly from A to B, instead of in leaps.

Outside of cartoons, we don't see quantum leaps in real life. We only see quantum leaps at the sub-atomic (or quantum) level. A sub-atomic particle (an electron, for example) can often go from A to B without passing through any other points. This is counter-intuitive. But, it happens.

Besides leaping across a distance, sub-atomic particles can change by leaps in other ways. An electron can change energy from energy-level A to energy-level B in a leap, without having any of the intermediate values of energy. In fact, this is where the term "quantum" comes from. At the sub-atomic level, energy is created and used up in well-defined amounts called "quanta." "Quanta" is plural, "quantum" is singular.

As you can now see, the quantum leaps in the TV series, Quantum Leap, were true quantum leaps. The main character did indeed leap through space and time, without passing through any of the intermediate space and time.