Quantum mechanics describes the microscopic properties of nature in a regime where classical mechanics no longer applies. It explains phenomena such as the wave-particle duality, quantization of energy and the uncertainty principle and is generally used in single body systems. Use the ...

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Is Stephen Wolfram's NKS, an attempt to explain the universe with cellular automata, in conflict with Bell's Theorem?

Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science (NKS) hit the bookstores in 2002 with maximum hype. His thesis is that the laws of physics can be generated by various cellular automata--simple programs ...
36
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4answers
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Trace of a commutator is zero - but what about the commutator of $x$ and $p$?

Operators can be cyclically interchanged inside a trace: $${\rm Tr} (AB)~=~{\rm Tr} (BA).$$ This means the trace of a commutator of any two operators is zero: $${\rm Tr} ([A,B])~=~0.$$ But what about ...
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Does a photon interfere only with itself?

I sometimes hear statements like that: Quantum-mechanically, interference pattern occurs due to quantum interference of wavefunction of a photon. Wavefunction of a single photon only interferes ...
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What is the Physical Meaning of Commutation of Two Operators?

I understand the mathematics of commutation relations and anti-commutation relations, but what does it physically mean for an observable (self-adjoint operator) to commute with another observable ...
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Does quantum mechanics violate the equivalence principle?

I have a question about equivalence principle in quantum mechanics. Consider a Schroedinger equation under gravitional field $$\left[ - \frac{1}{2m_I} \nabla^2 + m_g \Phi_{\mathrm{grav}} \right]\psi ...
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Is the universe a quantum computer - is light speed barrier a computational constraint

There is currently a debate ongoing on leading maths blog Gödel’s Lost Letter, between Gil Kalai and Aram Harrow, with the former arguing that building a quantum computer may not be possible due to ...
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Applications of the Spectral Theorem to Quantum Mechanics

I'm currently learning some basic functional analysis. Yesterday I arrived at the spectral theorem of self-adjoint operators. I've heard that this theorem has lots of applications in Quantum ...
21
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In 't Hooft beable models, do measurements keep states classical?

This is a questions on 't Hooft's beable models (see here: Discreteness and Determinism in Superstrings?) for quantum mechanics, and the goal is to understand to what extent these succeed in ...
18
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Definitions: 'locality' vs 'causality'

I'm having trouble unambiguously interpreting many answers here due to the fact that the terms locality and causality are sometimes used interchangeably, while other times seem to mean very different ...
15
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In what sense is a scalar field observable in QFT?

Consider a QFT consisting of a single, hermitian scalar field $\Phi$ on spacetime (say $\mathbb R^{3,1}$ for simplicity). At each point $x$ in spacetime, $\Phi(x)$ is an observable in the sense that ...
6
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Chemical potential

This is something probably very basic but I was led back to this issue while listening to a recent seminar by Allan Adams on holographic superconductors. He seemed very worried to have a theory at ...
14
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1answer
645 views

How is quantum mechanics compatible with the speed of light limit?

Consider a free electron in space. Let us suppose we measure its position to be at point A with a high degree of accuracy at time 0. If I recall my QM correctly, as time passes the wave function ...
12
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What is the conserved quantity of a scale-invariant universe?

Consider that we have a system described by a wavefunction psi(x). We then make an exact copy of the system, and anything associated with it, (including the inner cogs and gears of the elementary ...
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2answers
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Galilean invariance of the Schrodinger equation

I am only asking this question so that I can write an answer myself with the content found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Likebox/Schrodinger#Galilean_invariance and here: ...
21
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Is the density operator a mathematical convenience or a 'fundamental' aspect of quantum mechanics?

In quantum mechanics, one makes the distinction between mixed states and pure states. A classic example of a mixed state is a beam of photons in which 50% have spin in the positive $z$-direction and ...
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Is there a difference between observing a particle and hitting it with another particle?

First, let me state that I'm a lot less experienced with physics than most people here. Quantum mechanics was as far as I got and that was about 9 years ago, with no use in the meantime. A lot of ...
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Difficulties with bra-ket notation

I have started to study quantum mechanics. I know linear algebra,functional analysis, calculus, and so on, but at this moment I have a problem in Dirac bra-ket formalism. Namely, I have problem with ...
7
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Is edge state of topological insulator really robust?

I am a little confused! Some people are arguing that the gapless edge state of Topological insulator is robust as long as the time reversal symmetry is not broken,while other people say that it is ...
5
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955 views

Energy operator

Does the Hamiltonian always translate to the energy of a system? What about in QM? So by the Schrodinger equation, is it true then that $i\hbar{\partial\over\partial t}|\psi\rangle=H|\psi\rangle$ ...
14
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6answers
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Is the Planck length Lorentz invariant?

The planck length is defined as $l_P = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}}$. So it is a combination of the constants $c, h, G$ which I believe are all Lorentz invariants. So I think the Planck length should ...
13
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2answers
499 views

Born rule for photons: it works, but it shouldn't?

We can observe double-slit diffraction with photons, with light of such low intensity that only one photon is ever in flight at one time. On a sensitive CCD, each photon is observed at exactly one ...
12
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5answers
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The Many Body problem

(This is a simple question, with likely a rather involved answer.) What are the primary obstacles to solve the many-body problem in quantum mechanics? Specifically, if we have a Hamiltonian for a ...
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With what probability does nuclear fusion occur at energies far below the Coulomb barrier?

Even at the core of the sun, the temperature of $\sim 10^7$ K only results in $kT\sim1$ keV, which is about a thousand times less than the electrical potential energy of $\sim1$ MeV needed in order to ...
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536 views

Quantum mechanics in a metric space rather than in a vector space, possible?

Quantum mechanics starts with wave functions living in Hilbert space. But later for Born's interpretation, the wave function need to be of unit energy (I mean total probability = 1, ...
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Is the Schrödinger equation derived or postulated?

I'm an undergraduate mathematics student trying to understand some quantum mechanics, but I'm having a hard time understanding what is the status of the Schrödinger equation. In some places I've read ...
14
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900 views

Difference between spin and polarization of a photon

I understand how one associates the spin of a quantum particle, e.g. of a photon, with intrinsic angular momentum. And in electromagnetism I have always understood the polarization of an EM wave as ...
13
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Wave/particle-duality as result of taking different limits of a QFT

There is an account on dualities in quantum field theories and string theories by Polchinski from last week http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.5704 At the end of page 4, he writes the wave/particle ...
12
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Entanglement in time

Quantum entanglement links particles through time, according to this study that received some publicity last year: New Type Of Entanglement Allows 'Teleportation in Time,' Say Physicists at The ...
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What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)

What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)? I want to self-study QM, and I've heard from most people that Hamiltonian mechanics is a prereq. So I wikipedia'd it and the entry ...
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Intrinsic structure of electron

The electron contains finite negative charge.The same charges repel each other.What makes electron stable and why does it not burst? Is it a law of nature that the electron charge is the smallest ...
8
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How does quantum trapping with diamagnets work?

I just saw this demonstration by someone from a Tel Aviv University lab. What they achieved there is mind blowing. I myself own a levitron that uses the Hall effect to levitate a magnet, the problem ...
8
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3answers
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A tutorial explanation of decoherence?

Is there a tutorial explanation as to how decoherence transforms a wavefunction (with a superposition of possible observable values) into a set of well-defined specific "classical" observable values ...
11
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536 views

Do stationary states with higher energy necessarily have higher position-momentum uncertainty?

For simple potentials like square wells and harmonic oscillators, one can explicitly calculate the product $\Delta x \Delta p$ for stationary states. When you do this, it turns out that higher energy ...
10
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Hawking radiation and reversibility

It's often said that, as long as the information that fell into a black hole comes out eventually in the Hawking radiation (by whatever means), pure states remain pure rather than evolving into mixed ...
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Spin - where does it come from?

I study physics and am attending a course on quantum field theory. It is hard for me to draw connections from there to the old conventional theories. In quantum field theory spin originates from the ...
8
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Simple explanation of quantum mechanics

Can you please describe quantum mechanics in simple words? When ever I read this word (quantum computers, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, quantum gravity etc) I feel like fantasy, myth and ...
7
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1answer
810 views

Recent breakthroughs in quantum computing?

Can anyone explain to me why we have had no major breakthroughs in the theory of quantum computation in the past 15 years? Shor's algorithm set the standard, since then we've had Grover's algorithm ...
5
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3answers
379 views

Probability and probability amplitude

The equation: $$P = |A|^2$$ appears in many books and lectures, where $P$ is a "probability" and $A$ is an "amplitude" or "probability amplitude". What led physicists to believe that the square of ...
4
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1answer
795 views

Is all angular momentum quantized?

Angular momentum is definitely quantized in elementary particles and electrons in atoms. Molecules also have characteristic rotation spectra. Is it true that all angular momentum is quantized, ...
13
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1k views

What does the ordering of creation/annihilation operators mean?

When a system is expressed in terms of creation and annihilation operators for bosonic/fermionic modes, what exactly is the physical meaning of the order in which the operators act? For example, for ...
11
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681 views

With redshift, energy is lost. Where does it go? [duplicate]

A photon emitted by a distant source billions of light years away arrives here with a lower frequency hence less energy than it started with. What happened to the energy?
11
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Variational Derivation of Schrodinger Equation

In reading Weinstock's Calculus of Variations, on pages 261 - 262 he explains how Schrodinger apparently first derived the Schrodinger equation from variational principles. Unfortunately I don't ...
11
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557 views

Essential background for QFT study

The preface to Mark Srednicki's "Quantum Field Theory" says that to be prepared for the book, one must recognize and understand the following equations: $$\frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega} = ...
6
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9answers
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Is it theoretically possible to reach 0 kelvin?

I'm having a discussion with someone. I said that it is -even theoretically- impossible to reach 0K, because that would imply that all molecules in the substance would stand perfectly still. He said ...
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What exactly is the 'observer' in physics and/or quantum mechanics? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: nature of an observer For instance, in the double slit experiment, what is exactly defined as an observer? I remember from somewhere, light is also an observer?
5
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Why doesn't a marble rolling on a table ever reflect back at the edge?

In light of the fact that when encountering a potential step there is a non-zero probability of a particle reflecting back, I was just wondering why it is that a marble doesn't "reflect" back from the ...
5
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3answers
739 views

Does the canonical commutation relation fix the form of the momentum operator?

For one dimensional quantum mechanics $$[\hat{x},\hat{p}]=i\hbar $$ Does this fix univocally the form of the $\hat{p}$ operator? My bet is no because $\hat{p}$ actually depends if we are on ...
4
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Bounded and Unbounded Operator

Can someone explain with a concrete example of how can I can check whether a quantum mechanical operator is bounded or unbounded? EDIT: For example., I would like to check whether $\hat ...
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Why electrons can't radiate in their atoms' orbits?

It's an old-new question (I found only one similar question with unsatisfactory (for me) answer: Where did Schrödinger solve the radiating problem of Bohr's model?) It's strange for me how all books ...
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Definite Parity of Solutions to a Schrödinger Equation with even Potential?

I am reading up on the Schrödinger equation and I quote: Because the potential is symmetric under $x\to-x$, we expect that there will be solutions of definite parity. Could someone kindly ...