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23
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a rigorous definition of 'much greater than'?

I have encountered $\gg$ in many physics text books where it's used as a relation between constants or functions but in none of the text books I have read is it properly defined anywhere. If $A \gg ...
19
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the existence of a sole particle in an hypothetical infinite empty space explicitly forbidden by QM?

Suppose the universe is completely empty with one sole particle trapped in it. To simplify, I will only be looking at the one dimensional case. However, all arguments are applicable for three ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

If the solar system is a non-inertial frame, why can Newton's Laws predict motion?

Since there is no object in the universe that doesn't move, and the solar system likely accelerates through space, how did Newton's Laws work so well? Didn't he assume that the sun is the ...
12
votes
1answer
332 views

Could Navier-Stokes equation be derived directly from Boltzmann equation?

I know how to derive Navier-Stokes equations from Boltzmann equation in case where bulk and viscosity coefficients are set to zero. I need only multiply it on momentum and to integrate it over ...
10
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
545 views

What does Feynman mean when he says that $F=ma$ is not exact?

Chapter 12-2 in Feynman Lectures Vol. 1 states: In fact the law, $F=ma$ is not exactly true; if it were a definition we should have to say that it is always true; but it is not ... First, ...
8
votes
4answers
816 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What will be the equation of motion of driven pendulum for amplitudes beyond the small angle approximation?

When finding the period of a pendulum beyond the small angle approximation, we have to use integration for small interval of $\theta$ and elliptical integration. I was trying to apply this situation ...
7
votes
2answers
251 views

Why do we still use perturbation theory, when we have advanced numerical methods and fast computers?

If my question sounds ignorant or even insulting, I apologise. I may be completely wrong, since I'm not a theoretical physicist. So, I understand why perturbation theory was originally used in ...
7
votes
3answers
891 views

Finding the energy eigenvalues of Hydrogen using WKB approach

I need help to find the energy eigen values of Hydrogen atom using WKB approach. So far I know, the radial equation is given by $$\frac{1}{r^2} \frac{\partial }{\partial r} \left( r^2 \frac{\partial ...
6
votes
3answers
925 views

Is Torricelli's law “wrong” for big holes? - Tank draining problem

Consider a tank full of water with a constant cross-sectional area A1 placed vertically on the ground. Now someone drills a hole of an area A2 in the bottom of the tank, and the liquid starts escaping ...
6
votes
0answers
116 views

Is drag force on an oscillating sphere an effective model for a swimmer?

I saw the latest video from Sixty Symbols Little Swimmers. At the end of the videos he says that we do not know how to calculate the movement of the little swimmers. He says(6:14-6:40 in video) that ...
6
votes
1answer
371 views

Adiabatic approximation

The adiabatic approximation for solid state systems is rather radical. I was wondering in which cases it breaks down. As it is based on the idea of the nuclii being much heavier than the electrons I ...
5
votes
7answers
12k views

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems? Why or why not?

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Small oscillations of the double pendulum

From the Lagrangian I've got the following equations of motion for the double pendulum in 2D. (The masses are different but the lengths of the two pendula are equal.) Let $m_2$ be the lowest-hanging ...
5
votes
1answer
922 views

What is the range of validity of Fermi's Golden Rule?

It is well known that to calculate the probability of transition in the scattering processes, as a first approximation, we use the Fermi golden rule. This rule is obtained considering the initial ...
5
votes
1answer
77 views

Approximate cloning of a qubit, given multiple starting copies

Suppose I'm given several clones of a qubit in a pure unentangled state. That is to say, I'm given the state $(a \left|0\right\rangle + b \left|1\right\rangle)^{\otimes n}$. My goal is to make $d$ ...
5
votes
2answers
203 views

Approximations in simple pendulum

In the approximation $$-(g/ \ell) \sin \theta \approx -(g/ \ell) \theta $$ we make an error $R$ which is $O(\theta ^3)$. If i did well my calculations it is estimated by $$R\leq|(g / ...
5
votes
2answers
539 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
285 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
204 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
966 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
166 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
166 views
+50

Condition for adiabatic approximation, derivation?

In quantum mechanics it is said that an adiabatic approximation is valid when $$T\gg \frac{\hbar}{\Delta E},$$ where $T$ is the time scale of variation of the Hamiltonian and $\Delta E$ is the typical ...
4
votes
1answer
158 views

Solution of QM tasks by using asymptotics

When we solve QM tasks by solving the Schrödinger equation, such as tasks about a particle in a Morse potential, a Poschl-Teller potential and many others, we usually find approximations (lets call ...
4
votes
1answer
89 views

What kinds of contributions can be neglected in the leading logarithmic approximation?

I'm looking for some good explanation on leading logarithmic approximation (LLA) in QCD; in particular, what types of contributions can be neglected while assuming LLA?
4
votes
1answer
205 views

Why can we not apply perturbation theory in Born-Oppenheimer approximation

In Weinberg's Lectures on Quantum Mechanics, he mentions Unfortunately, we cannot simply use first-order perturbation theory, with $T_{nuc}$ taken as the perturbation and the state vectors ...
4
votes
1answer
710 views

Problem in Youngs double slit experiment

This is from Young Double slit experiment. But How to prove the the two $\theta$ are equal, I meant, how $\angle EAD= \angle PEC$? I see from the both triangle have $90^0$ but what about others?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do we use the Coulomb potential for the hydrogen atom?

When solving the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom, the Coulomb potential $V = \frac{e^2}{4 \pi \epsilon_0 r}$ is used. The Coulomb potential comes from classical electrodynamics, so why ...
3
votes
3answers
419 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the difference between “numerical methods” & “mathematical analysis” as said by Feynman in his lectures?

While reading his lectures, I came to these lines: On the basis of Newton's second law of motion,which gives the relation between the acceleration of any body & the force acting on it,any ...
3
votes
1answer
171 views

Why is the Taylor expansion of the gravitational potential cut off after first term?

In this answer to a question on this site, the gravitational potential of the Earth is expanded as $$U(r) \approx U(r_0) + \left.\frac {dU(r)}{dr}\right|_{r=r_0}(r-r_0),$$ keeping only the linear ...
3
votes
1answer
275 views

Can a very small portion of an ellipse be a parabola?

We consider that when a body is projected from any height from the earth surface with a speed lesser than the orbital speed ( tangentially to the earth surface at that point.) it follows an elliptical ...
3
votes
2answers
93 views

Can I alternate between notes really fast and have it sound like a chord?

The question basically amounts to whether I can construct the illusion of superposition with adjacent sine waves of varying frequency. Context I'm trying to play music on a Tesla Coil (like OneTesla ...
3
votes
1answer
307 views

Does effective theory have the same meaning in particle and condensed matter physics

I have a naive question about the meaning of effective theory in particle physics and condensed matter physics. In particle physics, from what I know, the effective theory comes from the Wilsonian ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Fermi's golden rule and infinite probablity?

I am slightly confused about the application of Fermi's golden rule. Which during standard derivations indicates a probability of transitioning from the state $|i \rangle$ to the state $|f\rangle$ of: ...
3
votes
2answers
259 views

Mathematical approximation to physics

Why is it often said that any mathematical theory is just an approximate theory of the universe? Wouldn't there be accurate mathematical structures repressing the physical entities of the universe ...
3
votes
2answers
136 views

Solving differential equations without approximations?

In physics, many problems start with a mathematical relationship of the physical phenomenon at hand, and then, in many occasion, always only leave whatever in the first order to get a nice and ...
3
votes
1answer
148 views

Evaluating low-temperature dependence of the BCS gap function

How does one go about evaluating the behavior of the BCS gap $ \Delta = \Delta(T) $ for $ T \to 0^+ $ under the weak coupling approximation $ \Delta/\hbar\omega_D \ll 1 $? In Fetter & Walecka, ...
3
votes
2answers
107 views

Any quadrupole approximation? Any example?

In atomic and molecular physics we quite often encounter with electric dipole approximation. The dipole approximation we do when the wave-length of the type of electromagnetic radiation which induces, ...
3
votes
2answers
131 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
75 views

Multiple Definition For Gravitational Potential Energy?

This may just be a simple Misconception Question, here goes: Definition for Gravitational Potential Energy: The work done by gravity to pull an object to the ground. ...
3
votes
1answer
315 views

Mean field theory Weiss Approximation for the Isling Model of a Protein

A model for protein in 2D can be formed by adding bonds of fixed length $l\sqrt{2}$ on a square lattice along the diagonal, ie $\hat{\mathbf{b}}_i=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\pm \hat{\mathbf{x}}\pm ...
3
votes
1answer
563 views

WKB approximation for multiple turning points

I'm working on a numerical program which approximates the eigenvalues of a Schrödinger equation by making use of the WKB approximation formulas. For example, if the Schrödinger equation is $$ y''(x) = ...
3
votes
1answer
284 views

Neglecting second order differentials

I am currently doing some Lorentz invariance exercises considering infinitesimal Lorentz transformations, and have been told to neglect second order differentials. It's not the first time I have come ...
3
votes
1answer
410 views

Self-consistent field approximation and uniform field approximation?

Can anyone give me explanation of self-consistent field approximation and uniform field approximation? I know self-consistent as when we write the Schrödinger equation as $$[ -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m} ...
3
votes
3answers
305 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
40 views

Electric field at surface of a spherical shell

The shell theorem provides a well known result that for a spherical shell with uniformly distributed charge $Q$ and radius $R$, the electric field at a distance of $r$ from the center is: ...