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13
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
368 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
8answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
688 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
437 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
659 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
308 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
205 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
185 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
5answers
4k 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?
4
votes
1answer
81 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
2answers
415 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
409 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
534 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
352 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
353 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
2answers
676 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
101 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
162 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
68 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
149 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
2answers
91 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
1answer
72 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
1answer
212 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
2answers
118 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
767 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
1answer
304 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
179 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
237 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
0answers
124 views

What does it mean to expand a Hamiltonian using perturbation theory?

On UC Davis chemwiki website, the Hamiltonian for quadrupolar coupling in NMR is analyzed. (The details of this aren't important.) It is said in the analysis that: The expansion of the ...
3
votes
0answers
205 views

Born approximation to Lippmann-Schwinger integral equation

I am having the following problem understanding the Born approximation in the case of the Lippmann-Schwinger equation. This exercise is for something which is entitled "computational physics lab ...
3
votes
0answers
133 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 / ...
3
votes
1answer
227 views

'Validity' of QED/QCD/Electroweak interaction

I am currently attending a course on Quantum Field Theory and I got into thinking how valid these theories are. As the theory attempts to describe reality only far above the Planck (length) scale, ...
2
votes
3answers
138 views

Singularity in Newton's gravitational law [duplicate]

If $r=0$ in the well know equation $F= G\dfrac{m_1\cdot m_2}{r^2}$, it will not follow that the force will be infinite? May someone please clarify it to me?
2
votes
2answers
70 views

Derivation of velocities in the Coriolis force

In Fitzpatrick's Newtonian Dynamics book on the Coriolis force, he states \begin{align} v_{x'}&\simeq V_0\cos\theta-2\Omega t V_0\sin\lambda~\sin\theta \tag{433}\\ ...
2
votes
1answer
70 views

Why do we consider the electric field of an infinite plane? [closed]

I never understood why one would calculate the electric field surrounding an infinite plane, if such thing does not exist. Is there physical motivation for using this model? Are the results applicable ...
2
votes
2answers
137 views

Is gravitational potential energy proportional or inversely proportional to distance?

We know that if an object has been lifted a distance $h$ from the ground then it has a potential energy change: $$\Delta U = mgh $$ so $h$ is proportional to $\Delta U$. However, we have also the ...
2
votes
1answer
119 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
198 views

Finding the approximate solution for Schrodinger equation by using variational method [closed]

I need to find the approximate solution of nonlinear Schrodinger equation $$ i\hbar \partial_{t} \Psi + \frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m}\Delta \Psi - g |\Psi|^{2}\Psi - \frac{m\omega^2 (x^2 + y^2 + z^2)}{2}\Psi = ...
2
votes
1answer
373 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
2answers
221 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
191 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?
2
votes
3answers
242 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
263 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
283 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
55 views

Why does the time-independent perturbation theory become no longer useful when its order gets larger?

In Griffith's Introduction to Quantum Mechanics p. 256, after figuring out $$E_n^2=\sum_{m\neq n} \frac{|\langle\psi_m^0|H'|\psi_n^0\rangle|^2}{E_n^0-E_m^0}$$ he says We could go on to calculate ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Proof of the conservation of the energy functional for the Gross-Pitaevskii equation?

From the Gross-Pitaevskii equation \begin{equation}i\hbar\frac{\partial\psi}{\partial t}=\left(-\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\nabla^2+V+g|\psi|^2\right)\psi\end{equation} using the variational relation ...
2
votes
0answers
94 views

Limits of integration for the radial wave function of the Hydrogen atom in the WKB approximation

I am working a problem where we have to find the energy eigenvalues for the radial wave function of the hydrogen atom for $\ell=0$ using the WKB approximation. I am sure that I set up the integral ...
2
votes
1answer
182 views

Index of Refraction in Metal: Approximating Complex Perturbation

If you consider waves in a metal, you can write the index of refraction for the metal as, $$ n^2 = 1 - \frac{\omega_p^2}{\omega^2} $$ I am interested in what will happen if the index is perturbed by ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Why does a difference in approach to projectile motion yields different results?

A body is projected vertically upwards from the surface of the earth with a velocity equal to half the escape velocity. If $R$ is the radius of the earth, then find the maximum height attained by the ...