Quantum mechanics (QM, also known as quantum physics, or quantum theory) is a branch of physics dealing with physical phenomena at microscopic scales, where the action is on the order of the Planck constant. Quantum mechanics departs from classical mechanics primarily at the quantum realm of atomic and subatomic length scales. Quantum mechanics provides a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. In advanced topics of quantum mechanics, some of these behaviors are macroscopic and only emerge at extreme (i.e., very low or very high) energies or temperatures. The name quantum mechanics derives from the observation that some physical quantities can change only in discrete amounts (Latin quanta), and not in a continuous (cf. analog) way. For example, the angular momentum of an electron bound to an atom or molecule is quantized.
Contributions by CYD, Lethe, and Andris.