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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What is the actual significance of the amplituhedron?

The news that physicists have discovered a geometrical object that simplifies a lot our models of quantum physics has recently became viral. For an outsider like me, it is difficult to actually ...
77
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7answers
10k views

Why do people categorically dismiss some simple quantum models?

Deterministic models. Clarification of the question: The problem with these blogs is that people are inclined to start yelling at each other. (I admit, I got infected and it's difficult not to raise ...
69
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9answers
11k views

Can we theoretically balance a perfectly symmetrical pencil on its one-atom tip?

I was asked by an undergrad student about this question. I think if we were to take away air molecules around the pencil and cool it to absolute zero, that pencil would theoretically balance. Am I ...
64
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9answers
6k views

Is Angular Momentum truly fundamental?

This may seem like a slightly trite question, but it is one that has long intrigued me. Since I formally learned classical (Newtonian) mechanics, it has often struck me that angular momentum (and ...
60
votes
10answers
6k views

Quantum Entanglement - What's the big deal?

Bearing in mind I am a layman - with no background in physics - please could someone explain what the "big deal" is with quantum entanglement? I used to think I understood it - that 2 particles, say ...
56
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9answers
22k views

Why don't electrons crash into the nuclei they “orbit”?

I'm having trouble understanding the simple "planetary" model of the atom that I'm being taught in my basic chemistry course. In particular, I can't see how a negatively charged electron can stay ...
55
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5answers
24k views

Is the universe fundamentally deterministic?

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question. I realise that this maybe a borderline philosophical question at this point in time, therefore feel free to close this question if you ...
55
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8answers
4k views

Is there a symmetry associated to the conservation of information?

Conservation of information seems to be a deep physical principle. For instance, Unitarity is a key concept in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory. We may wonder if there is an underlying ...
53
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5answers
8k views

A list of inconveniences between quantum mechanics and (general) relativity?

It is well known that quantum mechanics and (general) relativity do not fit well. I am wondering whether it is possible to make a list of contradictions or problems between them? E.g. relativity ...
51
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8answers
10k views

Why is quantum entanglement considered to be an active link between particles?

From everything I've read about quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement phenomena, it's not obvious to me why quantum entanglement is considered to be an active link. That is, it's stated every ...
50
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0answers
2k views

Experimental test of the non-statisticality theorem?

Context: The paper On the reality of the quantum state (Nature Physics 8, 475–478 (2012) or arXiv:1111.3328) shows under suitable assumptions that the quantum state cannot be interpreted as a ...
49
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4answers
7k views

What is spin as it relates to subatomic particles?

I often hear about subatomic particles having a property called "spin" but also that it doesn't actually relate to spinning about an axis like you would think. Which particles have spin? What does ...
48
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1answer
5k views

Is it possible to “see” atoms?

As per my knowledge, atoms are small beyond our imaginations. But there is an image on Wikipedia that shows silicon atoms observed at the surface of silicon carbide crystals. The image: How can we ...
44
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18answers
5k views

Quantum mechanics and everyday nature

Is there a phenomenon visible to the naked eye that requires quantum mechanics to be satisfactorily explained? I am looking for a sort of quantic Newtonian apple.
43
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9answers
3k views

Is the uncertainty principle a property of elementary particles or a result of our measurement tools?

In many physics divulgation books I've read, this seems to be a commonly accepted point of view (I'm making this quote up, as I don't remember the exact words, but this should give you an idea): ...
43
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9answers
8k views

Why is it said that without quantum mechanics we would not have modern computers?

I've heard this in many quantum mechanics talks and lectures, nevertheless I don't seem to grasp the idea behind it. What I mean is, at which point is that our modern understanding of quantum ...
42
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14answers
4k views

Why quantum mechanics?

Imagine you're teaching a first course on quantum mechanics in which your students are well-versed in classical mechanics, but have never seen any quantum before. How would you motivate the subject ...
38
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4answers
4k views

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 ...
37
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4answers
1k views

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 ...
36
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7answers
3k views

Path integral vs. measure on infinite dimensional space

Coming from a mathematical background, I'm trying to get a handle on the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics. According to Feynman, if you want to figure out the probability amplitude for ...
36
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10answers
4k views

What is spontaneous symmetry breaking in QUANTUM systems?

Most descriptions of spontaneous symmetry breaking, even for spontaneous symmetry breaking in quantum systems, actually only give a classical picture. According to the classical picture, spontaneous ...
35
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11answers
10k views

About the complex nature of the wave function?

1. Why is the wave function complex? I've collected some layman explanations but they are incomplete and unsatisfactory. However in the book by Merzbacher in the initial few pages he provides an ...
35
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2answers
662 views

Physical interpretation of different selfadjoint extensions

Given a symmetric (densely defined) operator in a Hilbert space, there might be quite a lot of selfadjoint extensions to it. This might be the case for a Schrödinger operator with a "bad" potential. ...
34
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5answers
4k views

Which is more fundamental, Fields or Particles?

I hope that I am using appropriate terminology. My confusion about quantum theory (beyond my obvious unfamiliarity with its terminology) is basically twofold: I lack an adequate understanding of ...
34
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7answers
1k views

Are these two quantum systems distinguishable?

Suppose Stanford Research Systems starts selling a two-level atom factory. Your grad student pushes a button, and bang, he gets a two level atom. Half the time the atom is produced in the ground ...
34
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5answers
4k views

What is the physical meaning of commutators in quantum mechanics?

This is a question I've been asked several times by students and I tend to have a hard time phrasing it in terms they can understand. This is a natural question to ask and it is not usually well ...
34
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3answers
1k views

What is the use of a Universal-NOT gate?

The universal-NOT gate in quantum computing is an operation which maps every point on the Bloch sphere to its antipodal point (see Buzek et al, Phys. Rev. A 60, R2626–R2629). In general, a single ...
33
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10answers
2k views

What is the difference between a measurement and any other interaction in quantum mechanics?

We've learned that the wave function of a particle collapses when we measure a particle's location. If it is found, it becomes more probable to find it a again in the same area, and if not the ...
32
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16answers
55k views

What is a good introductory book on quantum mechanics?

I'm really interested in quantum theory and would like to learn all that I can about it. I've followed a few tutorials and read a few books but none satisfied me completely. I'm looking for ...
32
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4answers
3k views

What really cause light/photons to appear slower in media?

I know that if we solve the Maxwell equation, we will end up with the phase velocity of light being related to the permeability and the permittivity of the material. But this is not what I'm ...
31
votes
8answers
3k views

Why $\displaystyle i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}$ can not be considered as the Hamiltonian operator?

In the time dependent Schrodinger equation $\displaystyle, H\Psi = i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\Psi$ , the Hamiltonian operator is given by $\displaystyle H = -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\nabla^2+V$ ...
31
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5answers
4k views

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 ...
31
votes
8answers
5k views

Is the wave-particle duality a real duality?

I often hear about the wave-particle duality, and how particles exhibit properties of both particles and waves. I most recently heard this in this video. However, I wonder; is this actually a duality? ...
30
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5answers
4k views

Why do all the atoms of a radioactive substance not decay at the same time?

Why does the substance decay at a rate which is proportional to the amount of the substance at that moment? As all atoms are in hurry to become a stable atom and as their decay do not depend on any ...
29
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3answers
2k views

What do we see while watching light? Waves or particles?

I'm trying to understand quantum physics. I'm pretty familiar with it but I can't decide what counts as observing to cause particle behave (at least when it's about lights). So the question is what do ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

Does Heisenberg's uncertainty under time evolution always grow?

Recently there have been some interesting questions on standard QM and especially on uncertainty principle and I enjoyed reviewing these basic concepts. And I came to realize I have an interesting ...
29
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
29
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3answers
16k views

Maximum theoretical data density

Our ability to store data on or in physical media continues to grow, with the maximum amount a data you can store in a given volume increasing exponentially from year to year. Storage devices continue ...
29
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4answers
2k views

Are there any theoretical limits on the energy of a photon?

Is there any lower or upper limit on the energy of a photon? i.e. does the mathematical framework we currently use for Quantum Mechanics blow up when a photon surpasses a certain upper limit of ...
28
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6answers
4k views

Can the photoelectric effect be explained without photons?

Lamb 1969 states, A misconception which most physicists acquire in their formative years is that the photoelectric effect requires the quantization of the electromagnetic field for its ...
28
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5answers
4k views

Hamilton's Principle

Hamilton's principle states that a dynamic system always follows a path such that its action integral is stationary (that is, maximum or minimum). Why should the action integral be stationary? On ...
28
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2answers
3k views

Classical and quantum anomalies

I have read about anomalies in different contexts and ways. I would like to read an explanation that unified all these statements or points of view: Anomalies are due to the fact that quantum field ...
27
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3answers
1k views

A “Hermitian” operator with imaginary eigenvalues

Let $${\bf H}=\hat{x}^3\hat{p}+\hat{p}\hat{x}^3$$ where $\hat{p}=-id/dx$. Clearly ${\bf H}^{\dagger}={\bf H}$, because ${\bf H}={\bf T} + {\bf T}^{\dagger}$, where ${\bf T}=\hat{x}^3\hat{p}$. In this ...
27
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5answers
4k views

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 ...
26
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6answers
3k views

Canonical everyday-life example of a technology that could not work without humans mastering QM in analogy to the application of GR in GPS?

The GPS is a very handy example in explaining to a broad audience why it is useful for humanity to know the laws of general relativity. It nicely bridges the abstract theory with daily life ...
26
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12answers
6k views

QM without complex numbers

I am trying to understand how complex numbers made their way into QM. Can we have a theory of the same physics without complex numbers? If so, is the theory using complex numbers easier?
26
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11answers
2k views

Negative probabilities in quantum physics

Negative probabilities are naturally found in the Wigner function (both the original one and its discrete variants), the Klein paradox (where it is an artifact of using a one-particle theory) and the ...
26
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2answers
3k views

Why would a black hole explode?

It is common in popular science culture to assume that Hawking radiation causes black holes to vaporize. And, in the end, the black hole would explode. I also remember it being mentioned in A Brief ...
26
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4answers
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Why do electrons occupy the space around nuclei, and not collide with them?

We all learn in grade school that electrons are negatively-charged particles that inhabit the space around the nucleus of an atom, that protons are positively-charged and are embedded within the ...
26
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0answers
722 views

Orbits of maximally entangled mixed states

It is well known (Please, see for example Geometry of quantum states by Bengtsson and Życzkowski ) that the set of $N$-dimensional density matrices is stratified by the adjoint action of $U(N)$, where ...