A complex scalar field that describes a quantum mechanical system. The square of the modulus of the wave function gives the probability of the system to be found in a particular state.

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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 ...
15
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4answers
837 views

Why do electrons in an atom occupy only the stationary states?

When we talk about the elementary problems in quantum mechanics like particle in a box, we first calculate the energy eigen-function. Then we say that the most general state is the linear combination ...
13
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9answers
1k views

“Reality” of EM waves vs. wavefunction of individual photons - why not treat the wave function as equally “Real”?

In thinking how to ask this question (somewhat) succinctly, I keep coming back to a Microwave Oven. A Microwave Oven has a grid of holes over the window specifically designed to be smaller in ...
13
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3answers
465 views

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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4answers
428 views

Reconstruction of “wavefunction” phases from $|\psi(x)|$ and $|\tilde \psi(p)|$

Consider a "wavefunction" $\psi(x)$, which has a Fourier transform $\tilde \psi(p)$ Suppose that we know, for each $x$, $|\psi(x)|^2$, and that we know, for each $p$, $|\tilde \psi(p)|^2$. Have we ...
12
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2answers
324 views

The formal solution of the Schrodinger equation

Let's have Schrodinger equation (or some equation in Schrodinger form) $$ \tag 1 i \partial_{0} \Psi ~=~ \hat{H} \Psi . $$ One likes to write that it has formal solution $$ \tag 2 \Psi (t) ~=~ ...
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3answers
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Meaning of inner product $\langle \vec{r} | \psi(t)\rangle $

I have come across the equation which comes out of the nothing in Zettili's book Quantum mechanics concepts and applications p. 167: $$\psi(\vec{r},t) ~=~ \langle \vec{r} \,|\, \psi(t) \rangle.$$ ...
11
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
10
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1answer
246 views

Interpretation of Dirac equation states

In Pauli theory the components of two-component wavefunction were interpreted as probability amplitudes of finding the particle in particular spin state. This seems easy to understand. But when ...
9
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3answers
669 views

If superposition is possible in QM, why do we often assume systems are already in their eigenstates?

My understanding is that an arbitrary quantum-mechanical wavefunction can be written as a linear combination of eigenfunctions of some Hermitian operator, most commonly the Hamiltonian; when a ...
8
votes
7answers
781 views

Is it wrong to talk about wave functions of macroscopic bodies?

Does a real macroscopic body, like table, human or a cup permits description as a wave function? When is it possible and when not? For example in the "Statistical Physics, Part I" by Landau & ...
8
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4answers
692 views

Quantum Wave Mechanics

I am studying QM-I these days. Now, I just think of the wave function as just a mathematical function that defines the state of the particle at an instant and from it you can extract various ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What is probability current in quantum mechanics?

What is probability current in quantum mechanics? Why define such a thing? I mean the meaning of probability current. I know the formula for it but I just don't get the idea of a flow of probability ...
8
votes
2answers
243 views

How axiomatic is the symmetrization requirement (i.e. the Pauli principle)? (in QM)

I've so far always been told, that the symmetrization requirement is an axiom on the level of the Schrödinger equation and the statistical interpretation of the wave function (or it's absolute value). ...
8
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2answers
568 views

Was uncertainty principle inferred by Fourier analysis?

I would like to know: did Heisenberg chance upon his Uncertainty Principle by performing Fourier analysis of wavepackets, after assuming that electrons can be treated as wavepackets?
8
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3answers
558 views

Is there only radial motion in the Hydrogen ground state?

The ground state of the Hydrogen atom is spherically symmetric. In other words, the wave function Psi depends only on the distance r of the electron from the nucleus. As a consequence all ...
8
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2answers
462 views

Wavefunction collapse and gravity

If gravity can be thought of as both a wave (the gravitational wave, as predicted to exist by Albert Einstein and certain calculations) and a particle (the graviton), would it make sense to apply ...
7
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4answers
378 views

Can we safely assume $\Psi(x,t) = \psi(x)e^{-i\omega t}$ always in QM?

In the particle in a box, harmonic oscillator and in Hydrogen Atom, we can safely assume $$\Psi(x,t) = \psi(x)e^{-i\omega t}.$$ So why not make it a postulate to consider the wave function to be ...
7
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5answers
443 views

Hilbert space vs. Projective Hilbert space

Hilbert space and rays: In a very general sense, we say that quantum states of a quantum mechanical system correspond to rays in the Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$, such that for any $c∈ℂ$ the state ...
7
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4answers
595 views

Why the statement “there exist at least one bound state for negative potential” doesn't hold for 3D case?

Previously I thought this is a universal theorem, for one can prove it in the one dimensional case using variational principal. However, today I'm doing a homework considering a potential like ...
7
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2answers
558 views

Has the collapse of wave function due to observation been recorded?

I've seen pictures like this one, which depict the outcome of the Double-slit experiment with wave-like or particle features, depending how measurement has taken place. The graphic showing ...
7
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2answers
287 views

Quantum states as rays as opposed to vectors

I recently read that a quantum state is actually defined by a ray and not a vector. That is it is possible to multiply a state $\psi$ by any complex number $c\in \mathbb{C}$ and you won't be changing ...
7
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1answer
965 views

Must the derivative of the wave function at infinity be zero?

I came across a problem in Griffiths where the derivative of the wave function (with respect to position in one dimension) evaluated at $\pm\infty$ is zero. Why is this? Is it true for any function ...
7
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2answers
588 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 ...
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3answers
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Electrons - What is Waving?

If an electron is a wave, what is waving? So many answers on the internet say "the probability that a particle will be at a particular location"... so... the electron is a physical manifestation of ...
7
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2answers
992 views

Particle in a 1-D box and the correspondence principle

Consider the particle in a 1-d box, we know very well the solutions of it. I'd like to see how the correspondence principle will work out in this case, if we consider position probability density ...
7
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2answers
274 views

When can we assume that the wavefunction is separable

While working out the stationary states of a single particle in a 3d infinite potential box ($V=0$ inside a cuboid of known dimensions, $V=\infty$ everywhere else), I realized I had to assume the ...
7
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1answer
316 views

Virial theorem and variational method: a question

I have an hydrogenic atom, knowing that its ground-state wavefunction has the standard form $$ \psi = A e^{-\beta r} $$ with $A = \frac{\beta^3}{\pi}$, I have to find the best value for $\beta$ ...
7
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3answers
659 views

Superconducting Wavefunction Phase (Feynman Lectures)

In Volume 3, Section 21-5 of the Feynman lectures (superconductivity), Feynman makes a step that I can't quite follow. To start, he writes the wavefunction of the ground state in the following form ...
6
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5answers
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Differences between probability density and expectation value of position

The expression $\int | \Psi\left(x\right)|^2dx$ gives the probability of finding a particle at a given position. If wave function gives the probabilities of positions, why do we calculate ...
6
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2answers
529 views

Does the wave function always asymptotically approach zero?

I'm new to quantum physics (and to this site), so please bear with me. I know that quantum mechanics allows particles to appear in regions that are classically forbidden; for example, an electron ...
6
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3answers
462 views

Could quantum mechanics work without the Born rule?

Slightly inspired by this question about the historical origins of the Born rule, I wondered whether quantum mechanics could still work without the Born rule. I realize it's one of the most ...
6
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2answers
915 views

Amplitude of Probability amplitude. Which one is it?

QM begins with a Born's rule which states that probability $P$ is equal to a modulus square of probability amplitude $\psi$: $$P = \left|\psi\right|^2.$$ If I write down a wave function like this ...
6
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2answers
304 views

Wave function in quantum mechanics

I was wondering about something while studying quantum mechanics. If the wave function collapses when measuring a particle and assumes a single position, how do we know that it was a wave in the first ...
6
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2answers
515 views

Schrödinger equation in position representation

We start from an abstract state vector $ \newcommand{\ket}[1]{|{#1}\rangle} \ket{\Psi}$ as a description of a state of a system and the Schrödinger equation in the following form $$ ...
6
votes
1answer
586 views

Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization from the WKB approximation

How can one prove the Bohr-Sommerfeld quantization formula $$ \oint p~dq ~=~2\pi n \hbar $$ from the WKB ansatz solution $$\Psi(x)~=~e^{iS(x)/ \hbar}$$ for the Schroedinger equation? With $S$ the ...
6
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3answers
902 views

Does quantum mechanics allow faster than light (FTL) travel?

Let's suppose I initially have a particle with a nice and narrow wave function[1] (I will leave these unnormed): $$e^{-\frac{x^2}{a}}$$ where $a$ is some small number (to make it narrow). Let's also ...
6
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2answers
332 views

Non-separable solution for the Schrödinger equation

Schrödinger solutions are usually if not always of the type: $\psi=\operatorname{T}(t)*\operatorname{X}(x)$ (we use the separation of variables method to arrive at the time independent Schroedinger ...
5
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3answers
2k views

What is the relation between position and momentum wavefunctions in quantum physics?

I have read in a couple of places that $\psi(p)$ and $\psi(q)$ are Fourier transforms of one another (e.g. Penrose). But isn't a Fourier transform simply a decomposition of a function into a sum or ...
5
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5answers
1k views

Example of the time-independent Schrödinger equation having a complex solution?

We know $\Psi(x,t)$ is complex, but can $\Psi(x)$ be complex? I have seen particle in a box, well and harmonic oscillator. All have real solutions for time-independent Schrödinger equation. Hence, I ...
5
votes
1answer
382 views

Am I missing a trick to solving a 3D potential well problem?

I was playing around with a 3-D potential $V$ such that $V_{(r)} = 0$ for $r<a$, and $V_{(r)} = V_0>0$ otherwise. By using the Schrödinger Equation, I showed that: ...
5
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5answers
956 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 ...
5
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3answers
342 views

Confusion about wavefunction separability

A wavefunction is inherently a multi-particle function. If you have a container that is perfectly isolated from the external universe (not possible, but just imagine it) and filled with $n$ ...
5
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3answers
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Momentum of particle in a box

Take a unit box, the energy eigenfunctions are $\sin(n\pi x)$ (ignoring normalization constant) inside the box and 0 outside. I have read that there is no momentum operator for a particle in a box, ...
5
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3answers
673 views

Meaning of $\int \phi^\dagger \hat A \psi \:\mathrm dx$

While analysing a problem in quantum Mechanics, I realized that I don't fully understand the physical meanings of certain integrals. I have been interpreting: $\int \phi^\dagger \hat A \psi ...
5
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2answers
319 views

How is the Pauli Exclusion Principle a consequence of antisymmetric wavefunction?

How is the Pauli Exclusion Principle a consequence of antisymmetric wavefunction?
5
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177 views

Inexact measurement and wavefunction collapse

As is usually said, measurement of an observable $q$ leads to collapse of wavefunction to an eigenstate of the corresponding operator $\hat q$. That is, now the wavefunction in $q$ representation is ...
5
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5answers
693 views

Is the wave function objective or subjective?

Here is a question I am curious about. Is the wave function objective or subjective, or is such a question meaningless? Conventionally, subjectivity is as follows: if a quantity is subjective then ...
5
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2answers
300 views

Can expectation value be imaginary?

I was solving a problem and the result of the expectation value of an operator came out to be $-\frac{\hbar}{4}$ $i$. Is this result possible? It seems counter intuitive.
5
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3answers
412 views

How can particles travel in a straight line?

A particle can be set off in a certain direction by giving them momentum. Momentum is a vector, so the particle heads off in a specific direction. But the wave function of the particle allows it to ...