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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

19
votes
3answers
811 views

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 ...
16
votes
1answer
899 views

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, ...
16
votes
3answers
491 views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

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 = ...
10
votes
1answer
627 views

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 ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
9
votes
4answers
423 views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
231 views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Evolution operator for time-dependent Hamiltonian

When i studyed QM I'm only working with non time-dependent Hamiltonians. In this case unitary evolution operator has the form $$\hat{U}=e^{-\frac{i}{\hbar}Ht}$$ that follows from this equation $$ ...
6
votes
2answers
455 views

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 ...
6
votes
2answers
281 views

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 ...
6
votes
2answers
314 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
185 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
642 views

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 $F(t)=F_0 \sin(\Omega t)$ ...
5
votes
1answer
292 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
344 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
8k views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
86 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
271 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
589 views

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: ...
4
votes
9answers
5k views

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 ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

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.
4
votes
2answers
626 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
354 views

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} &= ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
426 views

Plotting a SHO in matlab [closed]

I have no prior experience of using matlab. My teacher want me to solve this question. I have been trying for a couple of hours now with no luck, please help! The mass of 100 g hanging in a spring ...
4
votes
2answers
956 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
766 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
59 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
267 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
240 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

Metronome synchronisation applied to swings

The movement of several metronomes can be synchronised when a movable floor is utilised which couples the movement of the different metronomes. Is it possible to apply this sort of synchronisation to ...
4
votes
0answers
142 views

Are Black Holes set to take over the Harmonic Oscillator in the 21st century?

A few years ago I attended a talk given by Andy Strominger entitled Black Holes- The Harmonic Oscillators of the 21st Century. This talk, ...
4
votes
2answers
645 views

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 ...
4
votes
0answers
259 views

Relativistic genarization of Quantum Harmonic Oscillator

I am trying to find out relativistic description of a quantum harmonic oscillator. For a classical relativistic oscillator mass is a function of co-ordinates(http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.2876). ...
3
votes
1answer
198 views

The issue on existence of inverse operations of $a$ and $a^{\dagger}$

I have asked a question at math.stackexchange that have a physical meaning. My assumption: Suppose $a$ and $a^\dagger$ is Hermitian adjoint operators and $[a,a^\dagger]=1$. I want to prove that ...
3
votes
2answers
273 views

Definition of “Quantizing”

Could anyone explain to me what "quantize" means in the following context? Quantize the 1-D harmonic oscillator for which $$H~=~{p^2\over 2m}+{1\over 2} m\omega^2 x^2.$$ I understand that the ...
3
votes
3answers
243 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
142 views

“Complex Variables Method” in Diff. Eq. - Justification and physical meaning?

A common method of simplifying calculations that involve differential equations - particularly involving oscillation - is to replace $\cos(\theta)$ with $e^{i \omega t}$, evaluate, and then take the ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the angle of a pendulum as a function of time a sine wave?

OK so I'm trying to understand why the angle of a pendulum as a function of time is a sine wave. I can't really find an explanation online and when I do find something partial there are certain ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

3D Quantum harmonic oscillator

For an isotropic 3D QHO in a potential $V(x,y,z)={1\over 2}m\omega^2(x^2+y^2+z^2)$. I can see by independence of the potential in the $x,y,z$ coordinates that the solution to the Schrodinger equation ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

Showing $K_\pm$ are raising/lowering operators

In this post, I have the following operators defined: $$K_1=\frac 14(p^2-q^2)$$ $$K_2=\frac 14 (pq+qp)$$ $$J_3 = \frac 14 (p^2+q^2)$$ I am given $ J_3|m\rangle = m|m\rangle$ and asked to show that ...
3
votes
2answers
194 views

Probability of position in linear shm?

The problem that got me thinking goes like this:- Find $dp/dx$ where $p$ is the probability of finding a body at a random instant of time undergoing linear shm according to $x=a\sin(\omega t)$. ...
3
votes
2answers
462 views

Zero point fluctuation of an harmonic oscillator

In a paper, I ran into the following definition of the zero point fluctuation of our favorite toy, the harmonic oscillator: $$x_{ZPF} = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar}{2m\Omega}} $$ where m is its mass and ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

Harmonic Oscillator potential, proof that Gaussians remain Gaussians?

I read in several papers that for a Harmonic Oscillator Hamiltonian in the time dependent Schrödinger equation a Gaussian wave packet remains Gaussian. Unfortunately I could not find any proof for ...
3
votes
2answers
129 views

Velocity and acceleration in SHM

Can velocity and acceleration reach maximal values during the SHM simultaneously? Can you explain why?
3
votes
1answer
182 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
666 views

Eigenstates of half Harmonic Oscillator

This might be a stupid question so pardon me! If I am looking for energy eigenstates to the 1D quantum problem such that there is an infinite barrier at $x<0$ and for $x>0$ the potential is ...
3
votes
1answer
621 views

Pendulum in an elevator

Suppose we have a pendulum tied to the ceiling of an elevator which is at rest. The pendulum is oscillating with a time period $T$, and it has an angular amplitude, say $\beta$. Now at some time ...