For questions about probability, probability theory, probability distributions, expected values and related matters. Purely mathematical questions should be asked on Math.SE.

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2 D random walk first return to origin [on hold]

If I have a 2d random walk starting from origin, the probability distribution of return to the origin is n/(log n) after n steps. What is the probability distribution of 'first' return to the origin ...
4
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4answers
192 views

Is there a phenomenon where physicists are only interested in the standard deviation of the quantity to be measured?

or a phenomenon where we can only measure the standard deviation ($\sigma_w$) of a variable $w$ and not the mean $\overline{w}$
2
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2answers
62 views

Microstates, Distribution of Particles, and the Probability of an Empty Compartment

If I have a closed system composed of $N$ particles and $p$ compartments, the total number of microstates available to that system is $$ p^N $$ Now say I want to find the probability that any one of ...
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0answers
36 views

Proving Probability Current and Momentum relationship

I am trying to show that $\mathbf j = \frac{\hbar}{2mi}\left(\Psi^* \mathbf \nabla \Psi - \Psi \mathbf \nabla \Psi^{*} \right) \,, $ simplifies to $\mathbf j = \frac{\mathbf p}{2m} (|\Psi|^2) $. I ...
0
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1answer
129 views

Probability and double slit

if a beam of identical particles at random distances from each other (or exactly 1/2 lambda between each other) travelling with the same v towards a double sllit do not interfere with each others wave ...
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5answers
1k views

Proof of Liouville's theorem: Relation between phase space volume and probability distribution function

I understand the proof of Liouville's theorem to the point where we conclude that Hamiltonian flow in phase-space is volume preserving as we flow in the phase space. Meaning the total derivative of ...
1
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1answer
67 views

Expectation Value of Unitary Time Evolution Operator in Quantum Mechanics

Does the expression $\langle \Psi_i|U(t)|\Psi_i\rangle$ have a specific meaning, where $U(T)$ is the unitary time evolution operator of $\Psi$, and $\Psi_i$ is the initial state of $\Psi$? If so, ...
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3answers
970 views

What is the physical interpretation of the density matrix in a double continuous basis $|\alpha\rangle$, $|\beta\rangle$?

(a) Any textbook gives the interpretation of the density matrix in a single continuous basis $|\alpha\rangle$: The diagonal elements $\rho(\alpha, \alpha) = \langle \alpha |\hat{\rho}| \alpha ...
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1answer
1k views

How close does a particle-antiparticle pair need to be for annihilation to happen?

I've most often seen the statement that the annihilation of a particle and its antiparticle occurs when they 'collide' with one another. So in other words when they get very close to one another ...
3
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0answers
34 views

Is the conservation of probability in the Schroedinger's equation unique?

The Schroedinger's equation can be viewed as a diffusion equation with imaginary constants $a$ and $b$ satisfying, $$(1) \quad \Psi_t=a \cdot \Delta \Psi-b \cdot V(x,t) \cdot \Psi$$ However if $a$ ...
2
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3answers
208 views

Why does Hamiltonian follow the property $H^*_{ij} = H_{ji} $?

I was reading Feynman's Lectures III's Hamiltonian Matrix. There I found this property of Hamiltonian Matrix: The Hamiltonian has one property that can be deduced right away, namely, that ...
3
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1answer
37 views

Probability of nuclear decay of small staring number of atoms

I came across a rather dubious question that a teacher had put in a power point. It said something like,"Given a sample of 100 atoms of isotope x, after one half life of the said isotope, how many ...
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1answer
42 views

Why wavefunction is sometimes multiplied by the radius to get probability density?

When solving 1d particle in a box, the probability density is said to be proportional to $|\psi|$, but when solving 3d orbitals, the probability density is said to be proportional to $|\psi|^2 r^2$. ...
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3answers
198 views

Does quantum mechanics break causality? [duplicate]

If quantum mechanics is probabilistic, there is no reason for a particle to be in one place and not the other, but particles do make up their minds... but how?
0
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0answers
20 views

how to use generating function to solve coupled linear master equations?

I am trying to solve a two dimensional continuous time and discrete state master equation. The master equation is linear and looks as follows, $\frac{\partial P_A(x,y,t)}{\partial t} = k_{11} ...
0
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0answers
18 views

Eigenvalues for correlation matrix which have the form of an harmonic function

I am trying to understand the written in the picture below. I took the matrix $C_{2 \times 2}$ which is: $$C=\left[ \begin{array}{} a& ace^{-\frac{|\phi_1-\phi_2|}{2}}\\ ...
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3answers
174 views

Can we predict throwing a dice?

What happens if we throw a dice from same position, with same force, by creating a vacuum environment on earth? Will it be predictable now i.e. will the dice have same results all the time? If answer ...
1
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0answers
42 views

Why does the preservation of transition probabilities imply the preservation of all quantum probabilities?

I have a question about symmetries in quantum mechanics. Let $H$ be a Hilbert space, and $\mathbb{P}H$ the corresponding projective Hilbert (ray) space. In quantum mechanics, a symmetry is usually ...
0
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0answers
59 views

How does one intrepret probabilites in the many-worlds interpretation?

Let's say I flip a coin, and don't look. From the copenhagen interpretation, the state of the coin is: $\frac1{\sqrt2}(i|\text{heads} \rangle - |\text{tails}\rangle)$ If I observe the coin, there is ...
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4answers
1k views

Why was quantum mechanics regarded as a non-deterministic theory?

It seems to be a wide impression that quantum mechanics is not deterministic, e.g. the world is quantum-mechanical and not deterministic. I have a basic question about quantum mechanics itself. A ...
0
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2answers
50 views

How to interpret irreversibility in time?

I'll quote Feynman's Lectures, chapter 52 (Symmetry in Physical Laws) of volume 1: [...] If we see the egg splattering on the sidewalk and the shell cracking open, and so on, then we will surely ...
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1answer
25 views

What does it mean that the Rutherford's cross section is infinite?

I'm studying elastic scattering and I read that the Rutherford's differential cross section is defined as: $$\left( \frac{d \sigma}{d \Omega} \right)_R = \frac{Z^2}{4} r_o^2 z^2 \frac{(m_ec / \beta ...
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1answer
72 views

What is a quasi-probability distribution?

I have some questions about the quasi-probability distribution. What is it? And why it is important in quantum mechanics? And what does "quasi" mean?
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0answers
35 views

What is the probabililty that a fair coin lands on its side?

This is a popular gag in movies, but I wonder how likely it really is. What is the probability that a uniform cylindrical coin (with radius $1$ and height $h$) lands on its side? If the ground were ...
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0answers
21 views

Entropic forces in Brownian motion

Reading Entropic forces in Brownian motion I'm having trouble to understand how the author makes a computation. He needs to calculate the number of ways a particle that is released from the origin can ...
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0answers
29 views

Boltzman equation for a collisionless medium?

In the derivation of the Boltzmann equation (link to Wikipedia) for a collisionless gas it is assumed that: $$f(\vec r+\frac{\vec p}{m} \Delta t, \vec P + \vec F \Delta t, t + \delta t)=f(\vec r, ...
1
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1answer
51 views

X-ray diffraction analyisis: The angle of elastic x-ray scattering

What is the scattering angle distribution for x-rays (in the 8keV range) scattered elastically? I work with XRD analysis, which is fundamentally basede on these elastic scatterings of x-rays. I read ...
4
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3answers
108 views

Performing the two slit experiment under a strong gravitational force

For elementary particles, are their associated De Broglie wavelengths affected by the spacetime curvature produced by large mass density values? I ask this as a newcomer to Q.M. so apologies if I ...
2
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1answer
113 views

In the algebraic formulation of Quantum Mechanics, how do probability amplitudes naturally arise?

In the algebraic formulation of quantum mechanics, consider $\mathcal{B}(\mathcal{H})$ as the set of all bounded operators on $\mathcal{H}$ (with involution, norm, etc.), which form a C*-algebra $C$. ...
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2answers
188 views

Entropy and Gibbs Free Energy

I've been struggling with the notion of entropy and gibbs free energy for almost three days now. Different sources on and off the internet say different things about entropy. Gibbs Free Energy is ...
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1answer
87 views

Can binary sequences generated from ergodic maps be chaotic?

Briefly, the way symbols are generated is: Consider a one-dimensional chaotic map $T: [0,1]→[0,1]$ and a time series $\{x_n\}_{n=1}^N$ generated with this map. Define a threshold $A$ and a ...
2
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1answer
55 views

Any fractal physical model that generates time series which demonstrate heavy-tailed (non-Gaussian) behavior in some form?

I know that fractal structures have power-laws in various forms "hidden" in them. I am looking for the most simple fractal model that I can find that generates time series with, say, ...
2
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1answer
372 views

Classical mechanics from Quantum mechanics

I'm looking at a way to prove that one recovers, under ad hoc assumptions, classical mechanics from quantum theory. Usually, we can find in textbooks that the propagator $$K(x,x_0;t)=\langle x|e^{-i ...
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0answers
27 views

Confusion about radioactivity

The following question is from General Problems on Physics by I.E Irodov 6.220. Find the decay constant and the mean lifetime of $^{55}\operatorname{Co}$ radionuclide if its activity is known to ...
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0answers
72 views

Particle in a box problem [closed]

What is the fraction, as a percentage, of the total probability of finding, between points at 0 pm and 30 pm, an electron in the level of a one-dimensional box 150 pm long? Here I found the ...
1
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0answers
27 views

Probability current: what's a good definition?

I am doing scattering problems with a really weird hamiltonian (e.g., only first-order in derivatives). I don't know how to define a probability current: I've looked at answers on this site, and they ...
2
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2answers
82 views

How do we decide whether an electron orbital has a non-zero or zero probability of lying inside the nucleus of an hydrogen atom?

How do we decide whether an electron orbital has a non-zero or zero probability of lying inside the nucleus of an hydrogen atom? It is mostly from the radial function, as to what I think but how ...
2
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3answers
141 views

Can a photon be absorbed by a proton?

When incident light passes through a hydrogen gas, for example, does it have 50% chance (since it's a 1:1 ratio of protons to electrons) of getting absorbed by the proton? Any chance at all? If no, ...
0
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2answers
45 views

Probability that a measurement will be in some set

Let $\mathcal{H}$ be the Hilbert space of a quantum system and $A$ one observable in $\mathcal{H}$. If $A$ has discrete spectrum $\{a_n : n \in \mathbb{N}\}$ for simplicity, then by the postulates of ...
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1answer
82 views

Many worlds probability of getting cancer [closed]

My understanding of probabilities in many worlds is following: If I would decide to start smoking and we know that 10% of smokers get cancer that means that in 10% of all worlds during my lifetime I ...
3
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2answers
150 views

Probability of fluorescence: matching of binding energy and incoming radiation energy?

Assume an X-ray diffractometer equipped with a copper anode X-ray tube. When a sample containing cobalt, iron, or manganese is irradiated by copper's K$\alpha_1$ radiation, sample fluorescence becomes ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the fundamental probabilistic interpretation of Quantum Fields?

In quantum mechanics, particles are described by wave functions, which describe probability amplitudes. In quantum field theory, particles are described by excitations of quantum fields. What is the ...
2
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0answers
45 views

Measure-theoretic maths behind Born's probabilistic interpretation of Schrodinger's equation

I was reading a bit about Quantum Mechanics, Schrodinger's equation and its probabilistic interpretation (found this very insightful intro here https://plus.maths.org/content/schrodinger-1), my ...
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1answer
68 views

Demonstration that the $\langle f(x)\rangle$ of an odd function $f(x)=-f(-x)$ of position $x$ in a symmetric potential well $V(x)=V(-x)$ is null

Consider a potential infinite well, which borders are $x=-a$ and $x=a$. I pretend to demonstrate that the expected value of a odd function $f(x)$, i.e., $\langle f(x)\rangle$, is null. We have the ...
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1answer
136 views

Is there a mathematical basis for Born rule?

Wave function determines complex amplitudes to possible measurement outcomes. The Born Rule states that the probability of obtaining some measurement outcome is equal to the square of the ...
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2answers
33 views

Pair annihilation - can annihilation be moderated?

I recently asked this question: How close does a particle-antiparticle pair need to be for annihilation to happen? And that received a good answer. But there was a second part to my question that ...
3
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4answers
197 views

What aspect of quantum mechanics forces probabilities to be (conventionally, at least) central?

I understand how to compute probability distributions and expected values and such from quantum states, but a lot of treatments of QM make it look like this is what the wavefunction is essentially ...
3
votes
4answers
347 views

Does $\lvert\langle p\lvert\psi\rangle\rvert^2$ have any meaning at all?

I used to think $\lvert\langle p\lvert\psi\rangle\rvert^2$ had the meaning of some likelihood of the particle's momentum being $p$ (within some tolerance interval $\Delta p$). Now I'm just confused. ...
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7answers
2k views

Why is the application of probability in QM fundamentally different from application of probability in other areas?

Why is the application of probability in quantum mechanics (QM) fundamentally different from its application in other areas? QM applies probability according to the same probability axioms as in other ...
2
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1answer
55 views

Spin sums in cross sections. Summing amplitudes or probabilities?

The context: I'm calculating the cross section for a scalar particle to decay into a fermion-antifermion pair in Yukawa theory, at tree level. In doing this, when calculating the amplitude from ...