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21
votes
4answers
967 views

In quantum mechanics, given certain energy spectrum can one generate the corresponding potential?

A typical problem in quantum mechanics is to calculate the spectrum that corresponds to a given potential. Is there a one to one correspondence between the potential and its spectrum? If the ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

Why can we treat quantum scattering problems as time-independent?

From what I remember in my undergraduate quantum mechanics class, we treated scattering of non-relativistic particles from a static potential like this: Solve the time-independent Schrodinger ...
11
votes
8answers
7k views

What is the difference between electric potential, voltage and electromotive force?

This is a confused part ever since I started learning electricity. What is the difference between voltage and electromotive force (emf)? Both of them have the same SI unit, right? I would appreciate ...
10
votes
1answer
678 views

In the Lennard-Jones potential, why does the attractive part (dispersion) have an $r^{-6}$ dependence?

The Lennard-Jones potential has the form: $$U(r) = 4\epsilon\left[ \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{12} - \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{6} \right]$$ The (attractive) $r^{-6}$ term describes the ...
10
votes
1answer
984 views

3D Delta Potential Well

The 1D delta potential well $V(x) = -A\delta(x - a)$ always has exactly one bound state. The same is true for the 3D delta potential well $V(\vec{r}) = -A\delta(\vec{r}-\vec{a})$. I can show this for ...
9
votes
2answers
304 views

Motivation for Potentials

This is a hypothetical question about "pedagogy". Let's say I am trying to take someone who has just a very small amount of knowledge about Newtonian mechanics and convince them that the Lagrangian ...
8
votes
1answer
198 views

Anharmonic oscillators: why is $F=-k x-k' x^3$, with no quadratic terms?

The equation of motion of a general anharmonic oscillator includes a position-dependent force that can be expanded in a Taylor series as $$m\ddot{x}+2\mu\dot{x}+k_0+k_1x+k_2x^2+k_3x^3\ldots=F.$$ I ...
8
votes
5answers
435 views

Why doesn't a quantum particle in an attractive 1D potential accumulate at the center?

I have two questions regarding (possibly counter intuitive results) Schrodinger equation and its application to two (strictly hypothetical) scenarios. Consider the 1D potential $V(x) = - ...
7
votes
2answers
353 views

Infinite and Finite Square Wells

For the infinite square well in the first region, outside the well: $$\frac{-\hbar^2}{2m}\frac{d^2 \psi}{dx^2} + V(x) \psi (x) = E \psi (x),$$ where you set $V = 0$. Rearranging gives $$\frac{d^2 ...
7
votes
2answers
217 views

Is there a time delay during tunnelling?

A particle hitting a square potential barrier can tunnel through it to get to the other side and carry on. Is there a time delay in this process?
6
votes
4answers
493 views

Why can't we ascribe a (possibly velocity dependent) potential to a dissipative force?

Sorry if this is a silly question but I cant get my head around it.
6
votes
1answer
710 views

How to interpret the magnetic vector potential?

In electromagnetism, we can re-write the electric field in terms of the electric scalar potential, and the magnetic vector potential. That is: $E = -\nabla\phi - \frac{\partial A}{\partial t}$, ...
6
votes
2answers
859 views

How electric currents can flow between 2 points at the same potential?

According to Ohm's law, if there is a potential difference, $V$, across a resistor then there is a current, $I$, flowing through it. Since we assume that points along the connecting wire are at the ...
6
votes
2answers
388 views

Why do we like gauge potentials so much?

Today I read articles and texts about Dirac monopoles and I have been wondering about the insistence on gauge potentials. Why do they seem (or why are they) so important to create a theory about ...
6
votes
2answers
152 views

Is there an equivalent of a scalar potential for torques?

For a given scalar potential $V$, it is known that the corresponding force field $\mathbf{F}$ can be computed from $$ \mathbf{F} = -\nabla V $$ Suppose a rigid body is placed inside this ...
5
votes
2answers
519 views

Why does a capacitor discharge?

Suppose a charged capacitor (parallel plates), the negative and positive charges on two plates attract each other. Which force cause the negative charge carriers (electrons) move through the circuit ...
5
votes
1answer
110 views

Is there any good reason/argument/heuristic why one can approximate forces by approximating the potentials?

My question Is there any good reason/argument/heuristic why one can approximate forces by approximating the potentials? (As a concrete example, in Electrostatics.) Motivation for the question I am ...
5
votes
1answer
169 views

Kaluza-Klein Christoffel Symbols

I have a question regarding the connection coefficients as they pertain to the following paper: http://www.weylmann.com/kaluza.pdf . When I try to calculate the 4D Christoffel symbols from the 4D part ...
5
votes
4answers
361 views

How electron movement produces current,instead of having a slow drift speed

Just need a clarification here, how the current is produced due to the movement of electrons, in an external circuit,having a very slow drift speed. Normally in a battery there is high potential ...
5
votes
1answer
123 views

Apparent contradiction between calculations and intuition?

I am rather confused because it would seem that mathematical conclusions I have drawn here goes against my physical intuition, though both aren't too reliable to begin with. We have a potential step ...
5
votes
1answer
143 views

How does current flow in a irregularly shaped heterogeneous resistor?

The motivation for my question is understanding how electricity gets through your skin as opposed to running along it, and how the presence of things like water on the skin affect the relative ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

Infinitely charged wire and Differential form of Gauss' Law

I have tried calculating the potential of a charged wire the direct way. If lambda is the charge density of the wire, then I get $$\phi(r) = \frac{\lambda}{4 \pi \epsilon_0 r} \int_{-\infty}^\infty ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

How can you have a negative voltage?

How can you have a negative voltage? I don't really understand the concept of negative voltage, how can it exist?
4
votes
2answers
729 views

Pn junction voltage drop?

This image from wikipedia, explains that there occurs a potential drop across a pn semiconductor junction, and an electric field confined to the depletion region. I already know the reason for the ...
4
votes
2answers
58 views

Definition of quantum anharmonicity

I have been reading research papers in mathematical physics for some months now, and I've seen the the term "anharmonic oscillator" quite frequently. At first I assumed that given a Schrodinger ...
4
votes
1answer
96 views

How do aspherical gravitational monopoles look like?

I was recently pointed by laboussoleestmonpays to a beautiful paper from some time ago, Aspherical gravitational monopoles. Alain Connes, Thibault Damour and Pierre Fayet. Nucl. Phys. B 490 no. ...
4
votes
1answer
195 views

Linear dependence of magnetic potential on current density

I'm a mathematician learning physics to provide some background for my mathematical work (especially pde's!). I have been reading through Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics (3rd edition), and I was ...
4
votes
1answer
129 views

Loopless voltage measurement

I think we are all very well familiarized with the classical voltmeter. Classical voltmeter has two conducting wires that bring two potentials into the box. In the box we have well controlled ...
4
votes
1answer
385 views

Can we solve the particle in an infinite well in QM using creation and annihilation operators?

The particle in an infinite potential well in QM is usually solved by easily solving Schrodinger differential equation. On the other hand particle in the harmonic oscillator oscillator potential can ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Force as gradient of scalar potential energy

My text book reads If a particle is acted upon by the forces which are conservative; that is, if the forces are derivable from a scalar potential energy function in manner $ F=-\nabla V $. I ...
4
votes
2answers
88 views

Argument for symmetry of potential

Consider the following electrostatic charge configuration of a spherically symmetric, perfect conductor with total charge $Q = 2q$, where $q > 0$. A point charge $q$ is placed at the position ...
3
votes
2answers
501 views

Potential functions

Can someone please explain what a potential is? Example. velocity potential in ideal flows, acoustic potential (gradient of which gives the particle velocity in a sound wave). Whenever I see potential ...
3
votes
2answers
177 views

Strong Newton's third law of action and reaction: Mathematical Interpretation

According to the strong law of action and reaction for internal forces(Goldstein): "$F_{ij}=-F_{ji}$ and the forces lie along the direction joining the particles." Now consider the statement If ...
3
votes
2answers
376 views

When are Eigenfunctions/Wavefunctions real?

When the Hamiltonian is Hermitian(i,e. beyond the effective mass approximation), generally under which conditions the eigenfunctions/wavefunctions are real? What happens in 1D case like the finite ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is electric potential scalar?

I can't conceptually visualize why it would be so. Say you have two point charges of equal charge and a point right in the middle of them. The potential of that charge, mathematically, is proportional ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

How does electricity flow in conductor when potential difference is applied?

Electrons move from higher potential to lower potential. When a conductor is connected to battery, electron move from negative terminal to positive terminal. But the battery itself forms a Electric ...
3
votes
2answers
156 views

Wave function with a delta potential

I have a particle and a potential $V(x)=\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}k\delta(x)$. Where $\delta (x)$ is the Delta function, and I am interested in the solutions of the stationary Schroedinger equation. If ...
3
votes
2answers
231 views

Alternative definitions of potential?

I hope this question is simple and can be quickly cleared up. In a 1D conservative dynamical system, I've always been taught that the potential function is the function $V(x)$ such that: ...
3
votes
2answers
378 views

Potential of arbitrary charge distribution

Imagine this: You have a sphere of air where you have no charge and around this sphere you have a charge distribution $\rho(r,\theta,\phi)$. (For instance, this could be ...
3
votes
5answers
621 views

Infinite Wells and Delta Functions

In considering a delta potential barrier in an infinite well, I can just enforce continuity at the potential barrier-it doesn't have to go to zero. Why then does it need to go to zero at the walls of ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

In $\textbf{f} = -\boldsymbol{\nabla} u$, what is $u$?

I know that force is the negative gradient of the potential: $$\textbf{f} = -\boldsymbol{\nabla} u$$ where force $\textbf{f}$ is a vector and $u$ is a scalar. This is a relatively soft question, ...
3
votes
1answer
55 views

Intuitive explanation of difference in $r$-dependence between dipole and monopole

For an electric monopole, its potential scales with $\frac{1}{r}$, where $r$ is the distance from the point of interest to the charge. However, for a dipole, its potential scales with $\frac{1}{r^2}$. ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

Is there any potential associated with magnetism

Can anybody please tell me if magnetism is a conservative force or if there is a field associated with it? How to reason? One thing I know is that the work done by a magnetic force is $0$.
3
votes
3answers
576 views

Can we have discontinuous wavefunctions in the Infinite Square well?

The energy eigenstates of the infinite square well problem look like the Fourier basis of L2 on the interval of the well. So then we should be able to for example make square waves that are an ...
3
votes
2answers
156 views

The appearance of volume $V$ in the Fourier series representation of a periodic cubic system

In the textbook Understanding Molecular Simulation by Frenkel and Smit (Second Edition), the authors represent a function $f(\textbf{r})$ (which depends on the coordinates of a periodic system) as a ...
3
votes
1answer
165 views

Conditions of applicability of potential flow about an airfoil

In many cases the flow about an airfoil is calculated by solving the Laplace equation, (for example in the Hess-Smith panel method). If the velocity field is irrotational and its divergence its zero, ...
3
votes
1answer
882 views

Electric Potential of a Charged Sphere

Problem Consider a sphere with radius $R$, and with a charge distribution $\rho(r)=\rho_0r$. Using Poisson's equation, calculate the electric potential inside and outside the sphere. Solution I don't ...
3
votes
1answer
570 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
3answers
92 views
+50

Origins of many-particle interactions

The internal potential energy of an $N$ particle system is a general function of the coordinates of the particles: $U(r_1,...,r_N)$. In some approximations and expansions - e.g. virial expansion - it ...
3
votes
1answer
247 views

Quantum Mechanics and the Airy Function, the physics of the turning point

I'm working with the Airy function, and the book states at $x=0$ is a turning point, and there are two very different behaviors on either side. In general what a does a turning point mean in ...