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16
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
11
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
417 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
7answers
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
736 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
723 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
3answers
643 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
6answers
6k 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
845 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
863 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
2answers
192 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
467 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
237 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
191 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
1answer
154 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
89 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
86 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
141 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
550 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
773 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
381 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
553 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
791 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
113 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
212 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
86 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
2answers
123 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
108 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
250 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
123 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
859 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
276 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
428 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
213 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
309 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
280 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
0answers
194 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
244 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
1answer
254 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
162 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
1answer
94 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
369 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
2answers
95 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
123 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
244 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
445 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
1answer
57 views

Lagrangian for small oscillations

For a double pendulum we can consider 2 generalised coordinates $\theta_1$ (angle between first mass and vertical axis) and $\theta_2$ (angle between second mass and vertical axis). The Lagrangian to ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

WKB Quantization Condition - negative?

In deriving the quantization condition for a bound state in a potential with "no verticle walls" we start with the WKB connection formulas to find the wavefunction in the interior of the well ...
2
votes
2answers
241 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
225 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?