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2
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2answers
193 views

Computing microstate probabilities based on Boltzmann distribution for chemical systems - Is it rigorous?

One approach to predicting the folded structure of a polymer (DNA, RNA, protein) is to compute the probability that any particular part of the polymer $x_i$ is "paired" with another part of the ...
4
votes
2answers
392 views

WKB method of approximation

Would it be legitimate to use the WKB approximation for a particle in a spherically symmetric Gaussian potential? $$V(r)~=~V_0(1-e^{-r^2/a^2}).$$ I'm not sure when to use which approximation ...
5
votes
1answer
192 views

Hawking Radiation from the WKB Approximation

Reading this paper which is itself an exposition of Parikh and Wilczek's paper, I get to a point where I fail to be able to follow the calculation. Now this is undoubtably because my calculational ...
3
votes
3answers
149 views

Particles scattering on fluids: breakdown of the effective continuum description

When does the macroscopic continuum description of a medium like a fluid break down? Say I'm interested in a scattering process of some particles with momentum $p$ and energy $E$ off a fluid of ...
0
votes
4answers
1k views

Are Newton's three laws of motion correct?

New technology brings new ideas with these new ideas we have to look at the old ones. Where else is a better place to start then Newton's three laws of motion! With our common age of technology do we ...
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8answers
869 views

Why do physicists believe that particles are pointlike?

String theory gives physicists reason to believe that particles are 1-dimensional strings because the theory has a purpose - unifying gravity with the gauge theories. So why is it that it's popular ...
1
vote
1answer
154 views

Reference for understanding characteristic length and time scales in a system (in particular electronic transport)

I am working on the transport properties of two dimensional electron gas in semiconductor heterostructures and am interested in the characteristic length and time scales of the system like elastic ...
3
votes
3answers
316 views

Can a wavefunction be solved to any arbitrary precision, given enough computer time?

I learned that the wavefunction for the hydrogen atom can be solved analytically (we did the derivation in class), but that for more complicated atoms it is "impossible" to solve and that only ...
1
vote
1answer
491 views

Definition of elementary particle [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are atoms particles? According to wikipedia an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a particle not known to have substructure. Moreover, I've learned ...
2
votes
1answer
166 views

Zero entropy change

If you put a object in contact with a heat reservoir that is infinitesimally higher in temperature than the object and allow equilibrium to be reached the entropy change is zero right?
1
vote
3answers
153 views

Why is current not 0 in a regular resistor - battery circuit immediately after you closed a circuit?

In regular open circuits with either a capacitor or inductor element, (when capacitor is uncharged) with a battery, when a switch is closed to complete the circuit the current is said to be 0 because ...
1
vote
3answers
206 views

In solving the hydrogen atom, how to see intuitively in advance that the spin effects to the energy spectrum can be ignored?

When the hydrogen atom is solved in QM books spin is usually ignored because its effect is to add tiny piece to the energy. My question is, is there a way to see this in advance, to see that if we ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

A problem of approximation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are continuum fluid mechanics accurate when constituents are discrete objects of finite size? When we apply differentiation on charge being conducted with respect to ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Are Quantum Physics and statistical theory always the same as semiclassical approximations?

Quantum Mechanics and Statistical physics is a bit hard , could we then study only the WKB approximation ? In the form: replace $ \sum_{n=0}^{\infty}exp(- \beta E_{n})=Z(\beta)\sim\iint ...
1
vote
0answers
158 views

Hooke's Law and the shape of coils

I've learned in school that the force in a coil is $F=kx$, linear on how much the coil is stretched. Two questions: Is it always linear for every shape of a coil? Does it remain linear if we ...
2
votes
1answer
337 views

Proof of adiabatic theorem on Wikipedia

I'm having trouble following the proof of the adiabatic theorem (apparently due to Messiah) on Wikipedia. At one stage we have: $U(t_1,t_0)=1+{1\over i}\int_{t_0}^{t_1}H(t)dt+{1\over ...
2
votes
3answers
233 views

Slow thermal equilibrium

I have a question which is inspired by considering the light field coming off an incandescent lightbulb. As a blackbody radiation field, the light is in thermal equilibrium at temperature $T$, which ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

semiclassical exact expression (in one dimension only)

let be $ N(x)= \sum_{n} H(x-E_{n}) $ the eingenvalue 'staircase' function and let be a system so $ V(x)=V(-x)$ and $ V^{-1}(x)=\sqrt \pi \frac{d^{1/2}}{dx^{1/2}} N(x) $ then would it be true that ...
2
votes
1answer
215 views

A missing factor of 2 in the standard Hartree-Fock mean field?

Let's start from a very simple argument: If $A$ and $B$ are some operators, then I can write their product as $$AB = (A-\langle A\rangle)(B - \langle B \rangle) + \langle A \rangle B + A \langle B ...
0
votes
3answers
243 views

Light Rays that are Perfectly Parallel

I just heard this simple reasoning in a documentary film: Light rays from distant stars are perfectly parallel. This is pretty interesting thought. In nature, it is hard to find something really ...
3
votes
2answers
576 views

Why are continuum fluid mechanics accurate when constituents are discrete objects of finite size?

Suppose we view fluids classically, i.e., as a collection of molecules (with some finite size) interacting via e&m and gravitational forces. Presumably we model fluids as continuous objects that ...
4
votes
1answer
294 views

Born-Oppenheimer Approximation equivalent to Tensor-product ?

If you have a wave function $\Psi$ of a system consisting of an electron and the vibrational modes of the crystal, THEN we represent the wavefunction $\Psi%$ to be in the Hilbert Space formed by the ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

Are energies non-transferable in the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, and when does it apply?

Adiabatic approximation or the Born-Oppenheimer approximation is used whenever the electronic motion is too fast that the electrons effectively see static nuclei and the nuclei, in turn, see an ...
3
votes
1answer
649 views

Time-Dependent Potentials in Quantum Mechanics

A potential that depends on time is usually solved using the time dependent perturbation theory in standard undergraduate textbooks in quantum mechanics. The reason usually mentioned is that time ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

How is the Saddle point approximation used in physics?

I am trying to understand the saddle point approximation and apply it to a problem I have but the treatments I have seen online are all very mathematical and are not giving me a good qualitative ...
1
vote
0answers
141 views

Question on energies obtained via WKB approximation

Suppose we are given an ODE problem $$ y''(x)+V(x)f(x)=E_{n} y(x) $$ with boundary conditions $ y(0)=y(\infty)=0$. Here $V(x)$ is a potential function. Then is it always true that (for $n ...
2
votes
1answer
267 views

Using the Scalar Electrostatic Potential to Calculate Transition Probabilities

transition probabilites of atomic systems prone to some time-varying electromagnetic field are very often calculated using perturbation theory leading to expressions including the vector potential ...
8
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3answers
660 views

Special Relativistic approximation to GR

Some time ago I was talking to a professor in college about some of the fundamental aspects and origin of General Relativity. I was surprised to learn, in fact, that a pretty good approximation to GR ...