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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11answers
14k 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
votes
6answers
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 ...
21
votes
2answers
750 views

What is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum field theory?

I am most interested in interpretational differences due to the fact that quantum field theory is relativistic while quantum mechanics is not. By "Copenhagen interpretation" I mean a minimal ...
17
votes
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a wave function in simple language?

In my textbook it is given that 'The wave function describes the position and state of the electron and its square gives the probability density of electrons.' Can someone give me a very ...
17
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4answers
1k 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 ...
15
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2answers
579 views

The formal solution of the Schrodinger equation

Consider the Schrödinger equation (or some equation in Schrödinger form) written down as $$ \tag 1 i \partial_{0} \Psi ~=~ \hat{H} \Psi . $$ Usually, one likes to write that it has a formal solution ...
14
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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: $$\psi(\vec{r},t) ~=~ \langle \vec{r} \,|\, \psi(t) \rangle.$$ ...
14
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5answers
1k 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 ...
13
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3answers
594 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
606 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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3answers
479 views

Bound states of the $V(x)=\pm \delta'^{(n)}(x)$ potential?

The $\delta(x)$ Dirac delta is not the only "point-supported" potential that we can integrate; in principle all their derivatives $\delta', \delta'', ...$ exist also, do they? If yes, can we look for ...
12
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1answer
3k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
531 views

Tensor product in quantum mechanics?

I often see many-body systems in QM represented in terms of a tensor products of the individual wave functions. Like, given two wave functions with basis vectors $|A\rangle$ and $|B\rangle$, belonging ...
11
votes
1answer
378 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 ...
11
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0answers
144 views

What's the lowest nuclear charge $Z < 1$ that will support a bound two-electron ion $(Z,2e^-)$?

In my programming project I calculate the minimal energy of an atom with 2 electrons in the $L=0, S=0$ state, using a Hylleraas wave function. The values I find for $Z=2$ (He) and $Z=1$ (H$^-$) are ...
10
votes
3answers
941 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
10
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1answer
151 views

What is known about the hydrogen atom in $d$ spatial dimensions?

In a first (or second) course on quantum mechanics, everyone learns how to solve the time-independent Schrödinger equation for the energy eigenstates of the hydrogen atom: $$ ...
9
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4answers
214 views

Connection between Hamiltonian version of the least action principle and probability amplitude in the Schrödinger equation

If I'm not mistaken, Schrödinger was influenced to look at wave equations because of de Broglie's assertion about particles having a wavelength. He started with the Hamiltonian equation which is ...
9
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2answers
3k 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 ...
9
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1answer
623 views

Non-separable solutions of the Schroedinger equation

I'm studying an undergraduate Quantum Mechanics course and I have some doubts about the solution of the Schroedinger equation by the separation of variables method. If we suppose that the solutions ...
8
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7answers
1k 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
425 views

Is it possible for $\Delta x$ ($\sigma_x$) of any free particle wave packet to be decreasing at any time?

Consider any wave packet describing a free particle (so no potential or other forces acting on it). Then it can be shown that $\Delta p$ does not change in time. However, my question is what happens ...
8
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4answers
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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 ...
8
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3answers
428 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
417 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 ...
8
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2answers
784 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 ...
8
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1answer
1k 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 ...
8
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2answers
736 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
2k views

Smoothness constraint of wave function

Is there anything in the physics that enforces the wave function to be $C^2$? Are weak solutions to the Schroedinger equation physical? I am reading the beginning chapters of Griffiths and he doesn't ...
8
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3answers
1k 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
716 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
votes
2answers
902 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
438 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
votes
4answers
494 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
5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
878 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
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3answers
2k 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) = ...
7
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3answers
452 views

Interpretation of boundary conditions in time-independent Schrödinger equation

The time-independent Schrödinger equation: $$\ -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\frac{d^2\psi}{dx^2} + V\psi = E\psi$$ is second order, so we should expect the solution to have two "degrees of freedom" which can ...
7
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2answers
859 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 ...
7
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1answer
1k 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?
7
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3answers
192 views

What do the wave functions associated to the Fock states of each mode of a bound state system mean?

$\renewcommand{\ket}[1]{\left \lvert #1 \right \rangle}$ Consider a string of length $L$ under tension and clamped on each end. This system is described by the wave equation and has a set of modes. ...
7
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2answers
972 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
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2answers
2k 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
votes
1answer
418 views

What is the wavefunction of the Young Double Slit experiment?

I have never seen the wavefunction for this experiment and would like to know how to derive it using the Schrodinger equation. I specifically want to see how the electron wave function leaves the ...
7
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2answers
630 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
439 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
978 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
2k views

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 ...