# Tagged Questions

Scalar and vector potentials in electromagnetism. The scalar potential is potential energy per unit charge. For potential energy, use the potential-energy tag.

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### 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 ...
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### Birds sitting on electric wires: potential difference between the legs

We have seen birds sitting on uninsulated electric wires of high voltage transmission lines overhead without getting harmed, because sitting on only one wire doesn't complete any circuit. But what ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### What is the difference between electric potential, potential difference (PD), voltage and electromotive force (EMF)?

This is a confused part ever since I started learning electricity. What is the difference between electric potential, potential difference (PD), voltage and electromotive force (EMF)? All of them have ...
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### Gibbs free energy intuition

What is Gibbs free energy? As my book explains: Gibbs energy is the energy of a system available for work. So, what does it want to tell? Why is it free? Energy means ability to do work. What is ...
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### Increasing a potential causes increase in energy levels

Suppose a potential $V(x)$, and suppose a bound particle so the allowed energy levels are discrete. Suppose a second potential $\widetilde{V}(x)$ such that $\widetilde{V}(x) \geq V(x)$ for all $x$ (...
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### 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: $E = -\nabla\phi - \frac{\partial A}{\partial t}$, ...
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### 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 ...
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### Why do we use gauges in Maxwell equation?

While solving the Maxwell's equation we often use the Lorenz or Coulomb gauge, but why is that? Are the equations unsolvable if the gauge is not fixed? Or is it just for the simplicity?
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### A false proof of drag force being conservative

Consider a particle moving along some trajectory in the $x$-$y$ plane, in a viscous medium. Then its equation of motion is given by: $$\mathbf{F}_d = - b \mathbf{v} .$$ it's well-known from the ...
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### 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 ...
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### Perturbation theory for a particle in a weak potential

I have a basic question about quantum mechanics, maybe it has a basic answer. Take a free particle in a quartic potential, $L=\frac{1}{2}\dot{x}^2-\lambda x^4$ This is massless $\phi^4$ theory in 0+...
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### 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 potential....
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### 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?
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### Infinite square well that suddenly decreases in size

A well known exercise in basic quantum mechanics is the sudden (diabatic) increase of the length of an infinite square well. Now consider a particle in an eigenstate of an infinite well that is ...
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