Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [probability]

For questions about probability, probability theory, probability distributions, expected values and related matters. Purely mathematical questions should be asked on Math.SE.

60
votes
8answers
5k views

Why is the application of probability in QM fundamentally different from application of probability in other areas?

Why is the application of probability in quantum mechanics (QM) fundamentally different from its application in other areas? QM applies probability according to the same probability axioms as in other ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Normalization of basis vectors with a continuous index?

I have an infinite basis which associates with each point, $x$, on the $x$-axis, a basis vector $|x\rangle$ such that the matrix of $|x\rangle$ is full of zeroes and a one by the $x^{\mathrm{th}}$ ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Born rule and unitary evolution

Is the Born rule a fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics, or can it be inferred from unitary evolution?
12
votes
3answers
3k views

Born's Rule, What is the Reason? [duplicate]

As far as I've read online, there isn't a good explanation for the Born Rule. Is this the case? Why does taking the square of the wave function give you the Probability? Naturally it removes negatives ...
4
votes
2answers
385 views

Why is $\langle x| x' \rangle=\delta(x-x')$? [duplicate]

I've tried to find any solution or proof for $$\langle x| x' \rangle=\delta(x-x'),$$ but I only came to this post: Wave function and Dirac bra-ket notation So I got the information, that the vector $|...
16
votes
6answers
17k views

Probability amplitude in Layman's Terms

What I understood is that probability amplitude is the square root of the probability of finding an electron around a nucleus, but the square root of the probability does not mean anything in the ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Is there actually a 0 probability of finding an electron in an orbital node?

I have recently read that an orbital node in an atom is a region where there is a 0 chance of finding an electron. However, I have also read that there is an above 0 chance of finding an electron ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Why, in spin sums, we sum over final spin states and average over initial states?

I am reading Halzen's book about quarks and leptons and on page 120 he talks about spin sums. He says that in order to calculate the amplitude between unpolarized states we have to sum over FINAL ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the fundamental probabilistic interpretation of Quantum Fields?

In quantum mechanics, particles are described by wave functions, which describe probability amplitudes. In quantum field theory, particles are described by excitations of quantum fields. What is the ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I intuitively understand the Boltzmann factor?

It is known that for a system at thermal equilibrium described by the canonical ensemble, the probability of being in a state of energy $E$ at temperature $T$ is given by the Boltzmann distribution: $$...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Infinite universe - Jumping to pointless conclusions

I watched an episode of thee BBC Horizon series titled 'To infinity and beyond'. In this program a number of respected physicists and mathematicians were talking about the nature of infinity and an ...
5
votes
3answers
295 views

How do we choose the standard probability current?

In quantum mechanics, the probability current is defined as $$\mathbf{J} \propto \text{Im}(\psi^* \nabla \psi)$$ and satisfies the continuity equation $$\nabla \cdot \mathbf{J} = - \frac{\partial \...
9
votes
2answers
709 views

Is it really impossible to calculate in advance the result of throwing dice?

Is it really impossible to calculate in advance the result of throwing dice? After all, the physics of dice throwing is in the world of classical mechanics, rather than quantum mechanics.
19
votes
7answers
2k views

Why is a Hermitian operator a “quantum random variable”?

To me, as a stupid mathematician, a random variable is a measurable function from some probability space $(\Omega, \sigma, \mu)$ to $(\Bbb{R}, B(\Bbb{R}))$. This makes sense. You have outcomes, events,...
36
votes
1answer
2k views

How close does a particle-antiparticle pair need to be for annihilation to happen?

I've most often seen the statement that the annihilation of a particle and its antiparticle occurs when they 'collide' with one another. So in other words when they get very close to one another right?...
6
votes
3answers
932 views

Probability and probability amplitude

The equation: $$P = |A|^2$$ appears in many books and lectures, where $P$ is a "probability" and $A$ is an "amplitude" or "probability amplitude". What led physicists to believe that the square of ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Are negativity of the Wigner function and quantum behaviour equivalent?

I've read the following question: Negative probabilities in quantum physics and I'm not sure I understand all the details about my actual question. I think mine is more direct. It is known that the ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Probability, quantum physics, and why (can't it/does it) apply to macroscale events?

Quantum physics dictates that there are probabilities that determine the outcome of an event, ie: the probability of a quark passing through a wall is X, due to the size of the quark in comparison to ...
3
votes
1answer
818 views

Can a particle pass through a nodal point where its wave function is zero?

Let's consider an infinite square well. In the first exited state there is a node at the middle of the well (i.e. wave function and thus probability of finding the particle is zero there). If I ...
3
votes
2answers
874 views

Physical intepretation of nodes in quantum mechanics

I am taking my second course in QM, and my head is starting to spin as it probably should. But I would very much like to clear up my head about a few details regarding the wave function. As I know it ...
19
votes
7answers
6k views

Why was quantum mechanics regarded as a non-deterministic theory?

It seems to be a wide impression that quantum mechanics is not deterministic, e.g. the world is quantum-mechanical and not deterministic. I have a basic question about quantum mechanics itself. A ...
25
votes
5answers
37k 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 simple ...
10
votes
2answers
500 views

Motivation for Wigner phase space distribution

Most sources say that Wigner distribution acts like a joint phase-space distribution in quantum mechanics and this is justified by the formula $$\int_{\mathbb{R}^6}w(x,p)a(x,p)dxdp= \langle \psi|\...
10
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
729 views

Derive Poisson distribution from probability per time of event

Suppose we have a probability per time $\lambda$ that something (e.g. nuclear decay, random walk takes a step, etc.) happens. It is a known result that the probability that $n$ events happen in a time ...
10
votes
2answers
827 views

How to determine the probabilities for a cuboid die?

Imagine we take a cuboid with sides $a, b$ and $c$ and throw it like a usual die. Is there a way to determine the probabilities of the different outcomes $P_{ab}, P_{bc}$ and $P_{ac}$? With $ab$, $bc$...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Relation between unitarity and conservation of probability

In a seminar, I heard that the unitary aspect of representations was important physically, because in quantum mechanics unitarity is closely tied to the conservation of probability. Could someone ...
8
votes
2answers
806 views

Interpretation: probability form probability amplitude (free particle)

If you compute the probability amplitude of a free 1D non-relativistic particle with mass $m$, located at position $x_0$ at time $t_0$, for beeing detected at some other point $x_N$ at time $t_N$ you ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

an example of a quantum system for which wigner function transitions to negative values

I want to check my understanding of the Wigner transform and try to understand why and how exactly the probabilistic interpretation drops down as the function goes to zero and then to negative values ...
2
votes
2answers
526 views

Double Slit Experiment/Transition of Classical to Quantum problems in Probability Addition in “An Experiment on bullets”

The First Picture is taken out from the Book The Character of Physical Law By Richard Feynman And the second picture is from his own The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Both figures correspond to the An ...
6
votes
5answers
11k views

Is it true that quantum mechanics technically allows anything to happen?

Maybe this is a silly question (I think it is), but it's a question I'm arguing with some of my friends for a long time. The ultimate question is: Is everything (in our Universe) possible ? I've ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Why can't a particle penetrate an infinite potential barrier?

I am studying basic quantum theory. My question is: Why can't a particle penetrate an infinite potential barrier? The reasoning that I have applied is that particles under consideration have finite ...
3
votes
2answers
331 views

Are probability-preserving variations of QT with respect to the Born rule mathematically possible?

Is it possible to create (m)any theoretically workable framework(s) - that do(es) produce probabilities - by taking QM and replacing the Born(-like) rule(s) with something that is not equivalent to it ...
2
votes
1answer
663 views

Why electron can not be found at some node locations in the infinite potential well? [duplicate]

Consider electron in an infinite potential well, studied in quantum mechanics. Position probability density of the electron is $$ P_n(x)=\left(\frac{2}{L}\right)\sin^2\left(\frac{n\pi x}{L}\right)$$ ...
2
votes
3answers
730 views

Wavefunction, probability and impossible events

A friend of mine asked me a question, which I considered trivial at first, but after a while gave rise to some doubts. For instance, we have a potential well in 1 dimension defined by $$ V(x)= \begin{...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Probability and the many-worlds interpretation

If I toss a coin, then according to the many worlds interpretation of QM, in half those worlds I'll get a head. If I then toss again, then in a quarter I will have got two heads. And so on. There will ...
1
vote
1answer
277 views

Nonexistence of a Probability for the Klein-Gordon Equation

David Bohm in his wonderful monograph Quantum Theory, in Section 4.6 discusses the difficulties one encounters in trying to develop a relativistic quantum mechanics. He starts from the relation \...
0
votes
3answers
971 views

Probability and double slit

if a beam of identical particles at random distances from each other (or exactly 1/2 lambda between each other) travelling with the same v towards a double sllit do not interfere with each others wave ...
-1
votes
3answers
658 views

Is my baby's gender an example of Schrodinger's cat?

At some time in the conception of a child, gender is determined by the X or Y chromosomes given by the male. This is, from my perception, a random selection, like the decaying atom. Like Schrodinger'...
5
votes
4answers
11k views

Is quantum physics truly random or does it just appear that way because of Heisenberg uncertainty principle

The behavior of an electron (and other tiny things) is said to be probabilistic because we can't say where an election will be when we measure it, but only where it will probably be. As I understand ...
3
votes
1answer
191 views

Basic question about probability and measurements

Say I have a Galton box, i.e. a ball dropping on a row of solid bodies. Now I want to calculate the probability distribution of the movement of the ball based on the properties of the body (case A). ...
3
votes
2answers
12k views

Calculating the most probable radius for an electron of a hydrogen atom in the ground state

This link describes a method for determining the most probable radius of an electron for a Hydrogen atom in the ground state. It states that : The radial probability density for the hydrogen ...
3
votes
2answers
634 views

How to calculate the tree-level probability amplitude for the electron-positron to muon-antimuon process?

Consider the following process: $e^+ + e^- \rightarrow \mu^+ + \mu^-$. I'm trying to calculate the probability amplitude of such a process in leading order. In leading order the amplitude is given by:...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Can a photon be absorbed by a proton?

When incident light passes through a hydrogen gas, for example, does it have 50% chance (since it's a 1:1 ratio of protons to electrons) of getting absorbed by the proton? Any chance at all? If no, ...
2
votes
1answer
141 views

Ising model on lattices with (vertical side length) $\neq$ (horizontal side length)

Consider the Ising model with nearest neighbours interactions on a rectangular lattice $L\times M$. If $L=M$ (2-dimensional square lattice), it is known (e.g. by Peierls argument or Onsager explicit ...
0
votes
2answers
166 views

The Interpretation of $|\psi|^2$ and the No-Clone Theorem

The standard interpretation of $|\psi|^2$ is taken as the probability density of the wave-function collapsing in the given infinitesimal small region. The way this probability is interpreted (at least ...
8
votes
2answers
9k views

Why is quantum mechanics based on probability theory? [duplicate]

What makes us formulate quantum mechanics based on probability theory? Isn't the real quantum world based on unknown laws to us? Is it possible that results of an experiment will be measurable in ...
2
votes
4answers
36k views

Differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density?

I am trying to understand the differences between wavefunction, probability and probability density. There are different definitions on the internet. For example: http://inside.mines.edu/~fsarazin/...
20
votes
5answers
564 views

Connections and applications of SLE in physics

In probability theory, the Schramm–Loewner evolution, also known as stochastic Loewner evolution or SLE, is a conformally invariant stochastic process. It is a family of random planar curves that are ...
16
votes
2answers
565 views

Nonexistence of a Probability for Real Wave Equations

David Bohm in Section (4.5) of his wonderful monograph Quantum Theory gives an argument to show that in order to build a physically meaningful theory of quantum phenomena, the wave function $\psi$ ...