Physical Principles: Quantum Mechanics
The practitioners of Western physics believed they had reached the climax of their art by the end of the nineteenth century. When a young Max Planck turned to the study of physics, he was warned that the field was virtually closed and that no significant or fundamental discoveries remained These views are certainly understandable from the perspective of the nineteenth-century practitioner. Appreciating the certainty of this view and then following the path by which the ideas of classical physics were replaced provides one of the best historical examples confirming the ideas put forth in chapter 2. The quite stunning rise of modern physics (which is composed of quantum and relativistic theory) from the monolith of classical physics followed from a fundamental shift in assumptions and a fresh view of the physical state space. As we will see in the following discussion, a shift in the paradigm from the macroscopic to the microscopic nature of the universe led to a reevaluation of the empirical evidence already at hand. The experimental evidence could not be understood (or better, properly linked to a formal model) until the simplifying assumptions on which the treatment of mechanics was based were revisited and revised. The new mechanical constructs that reflect both a shift in the way the state space is viewed and how the observables are linked to a formal theoretical model compose the language and concepts of modern physics and are the foundation of modern natural science. We will follow the historical development of the quantum theory as an example of model making and use this perspective as our approach for learning the details of the field.
KeywordsWave Function Wave Packet Physical Principle Black Body Classical Physic
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Textbook Chapters Treating Quantum Mechanics
- Feynman R. P., Leighton R. B., and Sands M. (1963). The Feynman Lectures on Physics, volume 3. Addison-Wesley, Publishing Co., Reading, MA.Google Scholar
- Tinocco I., Sauer K., and Wang J. C. (1994) Physical Chemistry with Applications in Biological Sciences, 3rd ed. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
Textbooks on Quantum Mechanics
- Atkins P. W. (1991) Quanta: A Handbook of Concepts, 2d ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Like an illustrated glossary. Fun to read and useful.Google Scholar
- Atkins P W. and Friedman R. S. (1996) Molecular Quantum Mechanics,3rd ed. Oxford University Press, New York. For the chemically oriented reader, this is the definitive textbook.Google Scholar
- Brandt S. and Dahmen H. D. (1995b) Quantum Mechanics on the Macintosh (also available on the PC), 2d ed. Springer-Verlag, New York. This is the program used in the preceding book to generate the graphics. I used this program to generate the illustrations for section 9. 12. The program is interactive and acts like a laboratory in which the user can gain a substantial practical feel for quantum mechanical behavior. I highly recommend its use in the classroom, laboratory, or even as a “video distraction” for anyone interested in developing more than an arm’s length feeling for quantum mechanical systems.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Eisberg R. and Resnick R. (1985) Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei and Particles, 2d ed. John Wiley and Sons, New York. A physics text. But this text is a wonderfully lucid discussion of quantum physics for the student ready to go beyond the introductory treatments.Google Scholar
- Hanna M. W. (1981) Quantum Mechanics in Chemistry. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., Menlo Park, CA.Google Scholar