1
QUANTUM MANTRASReview of and supplement to P.C.W. Davies,
Quantum Mechanics
(1984)Frank Munley, June 2011
CHAPTER 1
:
Preliminary concepts
1. Quantum mechanics is “weird” in the sense that it describes properties of matter that don’t seem tomatch and indeed contradict what we observe or are habituated to at the human level. One hallmark of thisweirdness is “wave-particle duality,” i.e., depending on the experimental circumstances, it is sometimesconvenient to treat a physical system as having wave properties, and at other times as having particle properties. How something can simultaneously behave like a wave and a particle is counterintuitive to theextreme. For example, just as a beam of light shows an interference pattern when it passes through twoslits in an opaque screen, so an electron beam exhibits an interference pattern even though electrons behavelike particles in many situations.
The De Broglie relationship between the particle property of momentum and wave property wavelength is:
p
=
h
/
"
=
h
k
, where
h
=
h
/ 2
"
,
h
= Planck’s constant,and
k
=
2
"
/
#
.2. Another manifestation of wave-particle duality is the relationship between
energy and frequency
:
E
=
h
"
=
h
#
. Although
E
=
h
"
holds for both a material particle which has a rest mass and a photon whoserest mass is zero, an important difference arises in the relationship between the wave number
k
and thefrequency
"
for these two particles. For a photon,
"
=
kv
, i.e.,
"
=
kc
where
c
= speed of light, while for a material particle,
"
=
(
h
/2
m
)
k
2
. This important difference leads to the Schrödinger equation for material particles stated below.3.
Uncertainty in frequency
: Frequency is most directly measured by counting the number of wave peaks passing a fixed point. If the counting lasts a time
"
, and
N
peaks are counted, then
"
=
N
/
#
. But theminimal uncertainty in the number is 1, so
"
#
=
1/
$
. Measuring frequency by counting:
Δν
= 1/
τ
, where
τ
is the time taken to count.
"
can also be a measure of the “uncertainty in time”
"
t
.4. Items 2 and 3 lead to the
Heisenberg uncertainty relation for energy and time is:
"
E
"
t
#
h
, so it isimpossible to carry out perfectly accurate measurements of both energy and time interval over which themeasurement is made.5.
"
is the
wave function
which can be used to describe the energy, position, momentum, etc. of amaterial particle. All measurements give real numbers, but
"
is generally complex. So by itself,
"
is notobservable; but
"
2
links us to physical reality:
In one dimension,
"
(
x
,
t
)
2
dx
= probability that a particle can be found (when a positionmeasurement is made) between x and x + dx. In three dimensions,
"
(
r
,
t
)
2
d
#
= probability that a particle can be found in the volume element
d
"
about the position
r
.(
N.B.:
d
"
is a common notation for a 3-D volume element and has nothing to do withcounting time.)
The probability that a particle can be found in a limited region is givenby the integral of
"
(
r
,
t
)
2
d
#
over that region. In particular, in one dimension,
the probability that a particle can be found between x
1
and x
2
is
"
(
x
,
t
)
2
dx
x
1
x
2
#
.
Since probabilities should sum to 1,
"
(
x
,
t
)
2
dx
=
1
x
1
x
2
#
(or, in 3-D,
"
(
r
,
t
)
2
d
#
=
1
x
1
x
2
$
)
withthe integration carried out over all space. In this case, we say the wave function is
normalized
.
6. Consider a particle localized on a one-dimensional line in a region of size
"
x
. Since the particle also hasa wave nature, the question arises: What range of wavelengths have to be added together to form a wavefunction, or in this context a localized wave
packet
, of size
"
x
? A rather straightforward application of Fourier analysis gives us the answer. To suggest how this works, suppose the particle is known to be in a