Perhaps few words in contemporary science have been abused as much as “quantum”. Simply put, a quantum is the minimum amount of an entity that can actually do anything. One example is a photon, which is the minimum amount of light that can be involved in an electromagnetic interaction. The study of such tiny particles, which exist at a truly infinitesimal level of minuteness, has become known as quantum physics, and is regarded by physicists as having the potential to underpin a so-called Theory of Everything — one that fully explains all known physical phenomena and predicts the outcome of all possible experiments. While we are not quite that far just yet, quantum physics does have significant practical applicability in industrial contexts, with estimates suggesting that up to 30% of the gross national product of the US is accounted for by inventions made possible by quantum mechanics. Therefore, while remaining committed to the long-term holy grail of explaining the universe, perhaps for now we should be happy just to settle for consolation prizes like, erm, quantum dishwasher powder.
Or more specifically: “FINISH® QUANTUM®“, part of the FINISH® “multi-benefit dishwashing tablets and pacs” range produced in the UK by Reckitt Benckiser plc. Interestingly, actual physicists don’t typically seek to protect their jargon by registering scientific descriptors as legal trademarks. But surprise surprise, actual quantum physics has little or nothing to do with this product. Continue reading “Towards a quantum Theory of Everything (including dirty dishes)”