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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7k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
650 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
356 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
266 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) ~=~ ...
9
votes
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: $$\psi(\vec{r},t) ~=~ \langle \vec{r} \,|\, \psi(t) \rangle.$$ ...
9
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1answer
205 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
548 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
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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 ...
8
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2answers
983 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
214 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
votes
2answers
498 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
2answers
420 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
votes
4answers
348 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
votes
7answers
700 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 & ...
7
votes
4answers
606 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
257 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
votes
2answers
466 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
816 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
votes
1answer
267 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
578 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
votes
5answers
601 views

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
votes
2answers
474 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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2answers
487 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
839 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
votes
3answers
416 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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3answers
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 ...
6
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2answers
673 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
201 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
483 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
766 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 ...
5
votes
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
votes
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
3answers
990 views

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
votes
3answers
607 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
votes
3answers
343 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
240 views

Time Varying Potential, series solution

Suppose we have a time varying potential $$\left( -\frac{1}{2m}\nabla^2+ V(\vec{r},t)\right)\psi = i\partial_t \psi$$ then I want to know why is the general solution written as $\psi = ...
5
votes
2answers
135 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
votes
3answers
379 views

What does the Schrodinger Equation really mean?

I understand that the Schrodinger equation is actually a principle that cannot be proven. But can someone give a plausible foundation for it and give it some physical meaning/interpretation. I guess ...
5
votes
1answer
555 views

Orthonormality of Radial Wave Function

Is the radial component $R_{n\ell}$ of the hydrogen wavefunction orthonormal? Doing out one of the integrals, I find that $$\int_0^{\infty} R_{10}R_{21}~r^2dr ~\neq~0$$ However, the link below says ...
5
votes
1answer
984 views

Confusion between the de Broglie wavelength of a particle and wave packets

So I learned that the de Broglie wavelength of a particle, $\lambda = \frac{h}{p}$, where h is Planck's constant and p is the momentum of the particle. I also learned that a quantum mechanics ...
5
votes
2answers
263 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
votes
1answer
292 views

Boundary conditions from single-valuedness of spherical wavefunctions

This question is a follow-up to David Bar Moshe's answer to my earlier question on the Aharonov-Bohm effect and flux-quantization. What I forgot was that it is not the wavefunction that must be ...
5
votes
2answers
100 views

Physical position eigenfunction normalisation

We know that the Dirac function $$\delta(a)=\lim_{a \rightarrow 0} \delta_{a}(x)$$ can be written as an infinitesimally narrow Gaussian: $$ \delta_{a}(x) := \frac{1}{\sqrt{2\pi a^2}}e^{-x^2/2a^2}$$ ...
5
votes
1answer
273 views

Relativistic contraction for a wave packet and uncertainty on momentum

Consider an electron described by a wave packet of extension $\Delta x$ for experimentalist A in the lab. Now assume experimentalist B is flying at a very high speed with regard to A and observes the ...
5
votes
3answers
98 views

Is the ground state closest to the uncertainty relation? [duplicate]

For simplicity, suppose we are only talking about discrete energy levels, ie, bound state case. The energy levels are $E_1, E_2\cdots$, and the corresponding wave functions are $\psi_1, \psi_2 ...
5
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1answer
97 views

Which position and momentum distributions arise from some wave function?

Consider a particle in one dimension with wave function $\psi(x)$. The probability density function describing how likely it is to find it in a given position is given by ...
4
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6answers
1k views

Is there a direct physical interpretation for the complex wavefunction?

The Schrodinger equation in non-relativistic quantum mechanics yields the time-evolution of the so-called wavefunction corresponding to the system concerned under the action of the associated ...
4
votes
2answers
342 views

Where to place the operator?

I believe it's standard to place the operator in between the conjugate of the wavefunction and the wavefunction itself. For instance, $$\langle p\rangle = \int_{-\infty}^{\infty}\Psi * ...
4
votes
1answer
323 views

Am I missing a trick to solving this differential equation?

I was playing around with a 3-D potential $V$ such that $V_{(r)} = 0$ for $r<a$, and $V_{(r)} = V_0$ otherwise. By using the Schrödinger Equation, I showed that: ...
4
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1answer
288 views

Imaginary Eigenvalue Of A Hermitian Operator

The eigenfunctions of a Hermitian operator are real. But consider a function $\psi(x)=e^{-\kappa x}$, $x\in\mathbb{R}$, where $\kappa$ is a real constant. Then, $$\hat p \psi(x)=-i\hbar ...