quantum mechanics

Knightian Uncertainty
[Update: I have fixed some broken links, and modified the discussion of QBism and the recent paper by Chris Fuchs— thanks to Chris himself for taking the time to read and find my mistakes!] For some reason, I’ve come across an idea called “Knightian Uncertainty” quite a bit lately. Frank Knight was an economist of…

SOLE Survivor
I recently finished my last term lecturing our secondyear Quantum Mechanics course, which I taught for five years. It’s a required class, a mathematical introduction to one of the most important set of ideas in all of physics, and really the basis for much of what we do, whether that’s astrophysics or particle physics or…

Oscillators, Integrals, and Bugs
[Update: The bug seems fixed in the latest version, 10.0.2.] I am in my third year teaching a course in Quantum Mechanics, and we spend a lot of time working with a very simple system known as the harmonic oscillator — the physics of a pendulum, or a spring. In fact, the simple harmonic oscillator…

Teaching mistakes
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The academic year has begun, and I’m teaching our secondyear Quantum Mechanics course again. I was pretty happy with last year’s version, and the students didn’t completely disagree. This year, there have been a few changes to the structure of the course — although not as much to the content as I might have liked…

Quantum SOLE
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A couple of weeks I received the Student OnLine Evaluation (SOLE) results for my Quantum Mechanics course. There were only two specific questions, rating each of the following from “Very Good” through “Poor” (there’s a “no response” off to the right, as well): The structure and delivery of the teaching sessions The content of this…

Quantum debrief
A week ago, I finished my first time teaching our secondyear course in quantum mechanics. After a bit of a taster in the first year, the class concentrates on the famous Schrödinger equation, which describes the properties of a particle under the influence of an external force. The simplest version of the equation is just…

Spring Break?
Somehow I’ve managed to forget my usual endofterm postmortem of the year’s lecturing. I think perhaps I’m only now recovering from 11 weeks of lectures, lab supervision, tutoring alongside a very busy time analysing Planck satellite data. But a few weeks ago term ended, and I finished teaching my undergraduate cosmology course at Imperial, 27…

The Measurement Problem
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OK, this is going to be a very long post. About something I don’t pretend to be expert in. But it is science, at least. A couple of weeks ago, Radio 4’s highbrow “In Our Time” tackled the socalled “Measurement Problem”. That is: quantum mechanics predicts probabilities, not definite outcomes. And yet we see a…

Majorana in superposition
This morning I found what is undoubtedly one of the weirdest papers ever to appear on the arXiv, “Ettore Majorana: quantum mechanics of destiny“, by O. B. Zaslavskii. On the one hand, it’s a short retelling of the life of Ettore Majorana, a major figure in the development of mid20thCentury particle physics. On the other,…

“What Really Exists”
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For some light holiday reading, check out this slightly mistitled article from the NY Times on the stillunsolved mysteries of Quantum Mechanics. It’s always good PR to have Einstein’s name in the title, but really it’s about a theory — Quantum Mechanics — that Einstein didn’t like much. That article spawned an excellent post from…
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