Basic Concepts and Theory of Motion

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Quantum Mechanics A
Schrödinger Equation
The most fundamental equation of quantum mechanics; given a Hamiltonian \mathcal{H}, it describes how a state |\Psi\rangle evolves in time.
Basic Concepts and Theory of Motion
UV Catastrophe (Black-Body Radiation)
Photoelectric Effect
Stability of Matter
Double Slit Experiment
Stern-Gerlach Experiment
The Principle of Complementarity
The Correspondence Principle
The Philosophy of Quantum Theory
Brief Derivation of Schrödinger Equation
Relation Between the Wave Function and Probability Density
Stationary States
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Some Consequences of the Uncertainty Principle
Linear Vector Spaces and Operators
Commutation Relations and Simultaneous Eigenvalues
The Schrödinger Equation in Dirac Notation
Transformations of Operators and Symmetry
Time Evolution of Expectation Values and Ehrenfest's Theorem
One-Dimensional Bound States
Oscillation Theorem
The Dirac Delta Function Potential
Scattering States, Transmission and Reflection
Motion in a Periodic Potential
Summary of One-Dimensional Systems
Harmonic Oscillator Spectrum and Eigenstates
Analytical Method for Solving the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
Coherent States
Charged Particles in an Electromagnetic Field
WKB Approximation
The Heisenberg Picture: Equations of Motion for Operators
The Interaction Picture
The Virial Theorem
Commutation Relations
Angular Momentum as a Generator of Rotations in 3D
Spherical Coordinates
Eigenvalue Quantization
Orbital Angular Momentum Eigenfunctions
General Formalism
Free Particle in Spherical Coordinates
Spherical Well
Isotropic Harmonic Oscillator
Hydrogen Atom
WKB in Spherical Coordinates
Feynman Path Integrals
The Free-Particle Propagator
Propagator for the Harmonic Oscillator
Differential Cross Section and the Green's Function Formulation of Scattering
Central Potential Scattering and Phase Shifts
Coulomb Potential Scattering

In quantum mechanics, all information about the system of interest is contained in its wave function, \Psi\,\!. Physical properties of the system such as position, linear and angular momentum, energy, etc. can be represented via linear operators, called observables. These observables are a complete set of commuting Hermitian operators, which means that the common eigenstates (in the case of quantum mechanics, the wavefunctions) of these Hermitian operators form an orthonormal basis. Through these mathematical observables, a set of corresponding physical values can be calculated.

In order to clarify the paragraph above, consider an analogous example: Suppose that the system is a book, and we characterize this book by taking measurements of the dimensions of this book and its mass (The volume and mass are enough to characterize this system). A ruler is used to measure the dimensions of the book, and this ruler is the observable operator. The length, width, and height (values) from the measurements are the physical values corresponding to that operator (ruler). For measuring the weight of the book, a balance is used as the operator. The measured mass of the book is the physical value for the corresponding observable. The two observable operators (the ruler and the mass scale) have to commute with each other, otherwise the system can not be characterized at the same time, and the two observables can not be measured with infinite precision.

In quantum mechanics, there are some measurements that cannot be done at the same time. For example, suppose we want to measure the position of an electron. What we would do is send a signal (a gamma ray, for example), which would strike the electron and return to our detectors. We have, then, the position of the electron. But as the photon strikes the electron, the electron gains additional momentum, and our simultaneous momentum measurement can not be precise. Therefore both momentum and position cannot be measured at the same time. These measurement are often called "incompatible observables." This is explained in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and implies, mathematically, that the two operators do not commute.

This concept contrasts with classical mechanics, where the two observables that do not commute with each other can still be measured with infinite precision. This is because of the difference in dimension of the object: macroscopic (classical mechanics) and microscopic scale (quantum mechanics). However, the prediction of quantum mechanics must be equivalent to that of the classical mechanics when the energy is very large (classical region). This is known as the Correspondence Principle, formally expressed by Bohr in 1923.

We can explain this principle as follows. In quantum mechanics, bound particles such as electrons in atoms cannot have arbitrary values of energy, only certain discrete values of energy. There are quantum numbers corresponding to specific values of energy and states of the particle. As the energy gets larger, the spacing between these discrete values becomes relatively small and we can regard the energy levels as a continuum. The region where the energy can be treated as a continuum is what is called the classical region.

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