The term "harmonic oscillator" is used to describe any system with a "linear" restoring force that tends to return the system to a equilibrium state. There is both a classical harmonic oscillator and a quantum harmonic oscillator. Both are used to as toy problems that describe many physical systems.

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Why is the harmonic oscillator so important?

I've been wondering what makes the harmonic oscillator such an important model. What I came up with: It is a (relatively) simple system, making it a perfect example for physics students to learn ...
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Hilbert space of harmonic oscillator: Countable vs uncountable?

Hm, this just occurred to me while answering another question: If I write the Hamiltonian for a harmonic oscillator as $$H = \frac{p^2}{2m} + \frac{1}{2} m \omega^2 x^2$$ then wouldn't one set of ...
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Why don't tuning forks have three prongs?

I was reading Why tuning forks have two prongs?. The top answer said the reason was to reduce oscillation through the hand holding the other prong. So if having 2 prongs will reduce oscillation loss, ...
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Why not drop $\hbar\omega/2$ from the quantum harmonic oscillator energy?

Since energy can always be shifted by a constant value without changing anything, why do books on quantum mechanics bother carrying the term $\hbar\omega/2$ around? To be precise, why do we write $H ...
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Origin of Ladder Operator methods

Ladder operators are found in various contexts (such as calculating the spectra of the harmonic oscillator and angular momentum) in almost all introductory Quantum Mechanics textbooks. And every book ...
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Proof that the One-Dimensional Simple Harmonic Oscillator is Non-Degenerate?

The standard treatment of the one-dimensional quantum simple harmonic oscillator (SHO) using the raising and lowering operators arrives at the countable basis of eigenstates $\{\vert n \rangle\}_{n = ...
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In what sense is a quantum field an infinite set of harmonic oscillators?

In what sense is a quantum field an infinite set of harmonic oscillators, one at each space-time point? When is it useful to think of a quantum field this way? The book I'm reading now, QFT by ...
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Exact energies of spherical harmonic oscillator in Dirac equation

The potential is given by: $$ V(r) = {1\over 2} \omega^2 r^2 $$ and we are solving the radial Dirac equation (in atomic units): $$ c{d P(r)\over d r} + c {\kappa\over r} P(r) + Q(r) (V(r)-2mc^2) = E ...
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Is the quantization of the harmonic oscillator unique?

To put it a little better: Is there more than one quantum system, which ends up in the classical harmonic oscillator in the classial limit? I'm specifically, but not only, interested in an ...
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limit as $x_1 \to x_0$, propagator for the harmonic oscillator

Consider a non-relativistic particle of mass $m$, moving along the $x$-axis in a potential $V(x) = m\omega^2x^2/2$. use path-integral methods to find the probability to find the particle between ...
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Will a damped harmonic oscillator, with no initial amplitude, oscillate if there was background “noise”?

Suppose I have a damped harmonic oscillator which is at rest, sitting comfortably with no initial amplitude, obeying the equation $$\ddot{x} + \frac{1}{Q}\dot{x} + x = 0$$ where x is the vertical ...
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Evolution operator for time-dependent Hamiltonian

When I studied QM I'm only working with time independent Hamiltonians. In this case the unitary evolution operator has the form $$\hat{U}=e^{-\frac{i}{\hbar}Ht}$$ that follows from this equation $$ ...
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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 ...
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Dilation operator in CFT viewed as 'hamiltonian'?

From the commutation relations for the conformal Lie algebra, we may infer that the dilation operator plays the same role as the Hamiltonian in CFTs. The appropriate commutation relations are ...
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Definition of the quality $(Q)$ factor?

According to Wikipedia, the Q factor is defined as: $$Q=2\pi\frac{\mathrm{energy \, \, stored}}{\mathrm{energy \, \,dissipated \, \, per \, \, cycle}}$$ Here are my questions: Does the energy ...
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What's a good reference for this classical picture Feynman's talking about?

I have a mathematics background but am trying to educate myself a little about physics. At the beginning of Feynman's QED book (not the popular one) is the following: Suppose all of the atoms in ...
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Harmonic oscillator modified by infinite well: are analytic solutions possible?

I'm trying to find solutions to a harmonic oscillator that sits within an infinite square well. I haven't spent too much time yet, and I've had no success so far. I'm wondering how possible or complex ...
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How do I solve for the phase constant given the amplitude and the angular frequency?

A piston (with mass M) in a car engine is in vertical simple harmonic motion with amplitude A. The engine is running at a period T. Suppose a small piece of metal with mass m were to break ...
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How to find zero-point oscillations for this system?

Consider the following Hamiltonian which is absolutely relativistic literally: only sensitive to absolute pairwise relative phase space variables of objects for a system of $N$ objects moving in one ...
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Is the usually taught solution to forced harmonic motion just a special solution?

Let's say we have a mass on a spring being driven by a forcing function. Given hook's law, $F = -kx$, and a forcing function of $$F(t) = F_0\sin(\omega t) .$$ We can write: $$ m\frac{d^2x}{dt^2} = ...
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Why Don't the Ladder Operators Commute?

I have two problems with ladder operators. The first is that I feel they should somehow result in measurable things. The asymmetry of applying the plus operator versus the minus operator is very ...
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Can a mass matrix be asymmetric?

I am developing a mathematical model of a mechanical device consisting basically of coupled harmonic oscillators. It turns out that the system mass matrix is asymmetric. I seem to read somewhere that ...
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Expectation value of time-dependent Hamiltonian

I'm trying to solve a problem in QM with a forced quantum oscillator. In this problem I have a quantum oscillator, which is in the ground state initially. At $t=0$, the force $F(t)=F_0 \sin(\Omega t)$ ...
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Forced harmonic oscillator with two springs

Consider a vertical system of two springs in series, with a mass(50 g) between them. From below the system is driven by a vibration generator. The setup is shown here, but the picture is taken while ...
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How to determine phase angle for a sinusoidal motion?

If I have an over-damped mechanical system that is excited with a sinusoidal motion. That sinusoidal motion starts with a determined frequency then increases frequency over time. Of course, it is ...
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Finding coefficient of proportionality

Recently in my AP Physics class I did a lab in which I measured k for a spring by setting up an oscillating system with it, and timing the period, repeating for different masses. Since ...
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Basis transformation between eigenstates of harmonic oscillators with different frequency

Given two harmonic oscillators with frequencies $\Omega$ and $\Omega'$, the eigenstates themselves are exactly known. Let's call them $\Psi_n$ and $\Psi'_n$. Is there a compact expression for the ...
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Has anyone published the procedure to generalize ladder operators for any potential in Schrodinger's equation?

I know that the ladder operator for the quantum harmonic oscillator \begin{align} H\psi_m = \left(\dfrac{p^2}{2m}+\dfrac{1}{2}m\omega^2x^2\right)\psi_m=E_m\psi_m \end{align} is \begin{align} A = ...
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Can soldiers marching at the right frequency realistically cause a bridge to break?

In my physics class it was suggested that ancient armies had a rough understanding of the idea of a resonant frequency and so they "broke step" when crossing bridges so as to avoid a very high $Q$. I ...
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Is it possible to find a “replacement pendulum” for a system of two equal but perpendicular pendulums?

I ask this question, because at the end of this long day I'm just too dazed to derive the proofs myself (even though I know that I should feel ashamed for this). So, the question: Given two ...
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Why are the solution coefficients for a harmonic oscillator proportional to minors of the determinant?

I'm studying the oscillations of systems with more than one degree of freedom from Landau & Lifshitz's Mechanics Third Edition (for those who have the book, my question corresponds roughly to ...
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Tricky spring on a surface question

I have this relative simple-looking question that I haven't been able to solve for hours now, it's one of those questions that just drive you nuts if you don't know how to do it. This is the scenario: ...
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Explanation: Simple Harmonic Motion

I am Math Grad student with a little bit of interest in physics. Recently i looked into the wikipedia page for Simple Harmonic Motion. Guess, I am too bad at physics to understand it. Considering me ...
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Why is $\pi$ used when calculating the value of $g$ in pendulum motion?

I am trying to intuitively understand why $\pi$ is used when calculating the value of $g$ using the harmonic motion of a pendulum: $$g ~=~\frac{4\pi^2L}{T^2}.$$ Does it have something to do with the ...
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Can someone please derive $T=2\pi\sqrt{l/g}$ or prove it without using calculus?

I don't know much calculus, but I want to know that how one derives the formula to find time period $T$ of a simple pendulum.
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Reflected and refracted light have same frequency as that of the incident light frequency. Why?

My text book says- When a monochromatic light is incident on a surface separating two media, the refracted and reflected light both have the same frequency as the incident frequency. Can anyone ...
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Why do electromagnetic waves oscillate?

I've been considering this question, and found many people asking the same (or something similar) online, but none of the answers seemed to address the core point or at least I wasn't able to make ...
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Proof for commutator relation $[\hat{H},\hat{a}] = - \hbar \omega \hat{a}$

I know how to derive below equations found on wikipedia and have done it myselt too: \begin{align} \hat{H} &= \hbar \omega \left(\hat{a}^\dagger\hat{a} + \frac{1}{2}\right)\\ \hat{H} &= ...
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Evolution of harmonic oscillator in path integral formulation

The unnormalized ground state of the harmonic oscillator (choosing units such that $m = \hbar = \omega = 1)$ is $$\tag{1}\psi(q,t) = \exp(-q^2/2-it/2).$$ The transition function is ...
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Why is the damping force on a spring oscillator linearly dependent on velocity?

If you consider the damping force is friction like in: then the force should be $$F=\mu N$$ where $\mu$ is the coefficient of kinetic friction. Why then is the damping force assumed to be linearly ...
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Good source for numerical simulations of Wigner function?

I'm interested in simulating the time evolution of a Wigner function for a harmonic oscillator (and possibly some other potentials) and I can't seem to find a good resource for that. My background in ...
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Pendulum Wave Period

Recently I've seen various videos showing the pendulum wave effect. All of the videos which I have found have a pattern which repeats every $60\mathrm{s}$. I am trying to work out the relationship ...
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Constant magnetic field applied to a quantum harmonic oscillator

I have a spinless particle of mass $m$ and charge $q$ which is an isotropic harmonic oscillator of frequency $\omega_0$, then I apply a constant magnetic field in the $z$ direction. We can show the ...
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Writing equation for amplitude of driven harmonic oscillator in Lorentzian form

This harmonic oscillator is driven and damped, with the form: $$\ddot{x} + \lambda \dot{x} + \omega_0^2 x = A \cos(\omega_d t)$$ Now, I have used the ansatz (guess): $x(t) = B \cos(\omega_d t + ...
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A pendulum in an elevator - looking upside down

If I have a pendulum connected to the floor of an elevator by a string, and the elevator is falling in an acceleration greater than g - can I just "rotate" the system and look at it as a regular ...
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Is this oscillator driven?

A mass $m$ is attached to a vertical massless spring or a spring constant $k$. Originally, the spring was relaxed because the mass was held by a clip. Suddenly the clip was released. THe mass ...
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Faster than critical damping for harmonic oscillator?

The image below shows damping for spring oscillator with Hooke law F=-kx and damped with F=-cv where: k is spring constant x is oscillator position c is damping coefficient v is velocity of oscillator ...
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Second Quantization - Texts

I am trying to familiarize myself with the ideas of Second Quantization. However, the literature that I can find online seems only to outline the tools of this formalism of quantum mechanics. There ...
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Energy transfer in a coupled pendulum

If you take a look at this video you will see what kind of a coupled pendulum I'm talking about. So I made a similar one in my high school's physics lab, using light metal bobs(much lighter than the ...
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Is the number-phase uncertainty relation classical?

For a harmonic oscillator in one dimension, there is an uncertainty relation between the number of quanta $n$ and the phase of the oscillation $\phi$. There are all kinds of technical complications ...