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
949 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 ...
14
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9answers
2k 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
509 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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3answers
1k views

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: $$\psi(\vec{r},t) ~=~ \langle \vec{r} \,|\, \psi(t) \rangle.$$ ...
12
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4answers
463 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
355 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) ~=~ ...
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
264 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
750 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
7answers
827 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
votes
5answers
740 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
votes
2answers
2k 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
5answers
536 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 ...
8
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1answer
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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 ...
8
votes
2answers
277 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
607 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
votes
3answers
708 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
501 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 ...
8
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2answers
255 views

How to guarantee square integrable solutions to time-independent Schrödinger's equation?

Given the time-independent Schrödinger’s equation in one dimension $$H\psi = E\psi$$ what restrictions can we place on V(x) (inside the hamiltonian) and E to guarantee that the solutions won't have ...
7
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4answers
396 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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4answers
914 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
598 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
299 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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2answers
685 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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2answers
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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
334 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
345 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
749 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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5answers
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Hydrogen radial wave function infinity at $r=0$

When trying to solve the Schrödinger equation for hydrogen, one usually splits up the wave function into two parts: $$\psi(r,\phi,\theta)= R(r)Y_{l,m}(\phi,\theta).$$ I understand that the radial ...
6
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5answers
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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 ...
6
votes
2answers
578 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

The meaning of the phase in the wave function

I have just started studying QM and I got into some trouble understanding something: Let's say there is a wave function of a particle in a 1D box ($0\leq x\leq a$): $$\psi(x,t=0) = ...
6
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3answers
489 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
970 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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1answer
332 views

What is a 'turning point' in WKB and why does it fail at that point?

What is meant by a classical turning point in quantum mechanics and why does the WKB approximation fail at that point?
6
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2answers
344 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
597 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
664 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
971 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
votes
2answers
180 views

Triangular barrier in infinite potential well

Suppose I am looking to solve the wavefunction for the following 1D potential: $$U(x) = \begin{cases}V_0\frac{a-|x|}{a}&\quad\text{for}\quad|x|<a ...
6
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2answers
386 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 ...
6
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2answers
96 views

Do bras and kets have dimensions?

I'm trying to understand more intuitively what bras and kets are, but some aspects of them remain a mystery to me. We usually think of $\psi (x)$ as having dimension of $[1/\sqrt{L}]$ so that ...
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3answers
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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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1answer
401 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
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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
388 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, ...