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Thread: The Quantum Mechanics of The Grand Design

  1. #1 The Quantum Mechanics of The Grand Design 
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    I recently read Stephen Hawking's new book, The Grand Design. Although I originally bought the book to see what Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (the coauthor) had to say about the necessity of invoking God to explain the origin of the universe, I found myself becoming very curious about the science presented in the book especially the quantum mechanics. I'd like to learn more about quantum mechanics.

    So where might I start? Can any of you talented physicists explain the basics of quantum mechanics in layman's terms? What mathematical disciplines are involved in the study of quantum physics? Can you recommend any books that are good introductions to quantum mechanics?

    And if any of you have read The Grand Design or pondered some of its issues (God as a cause of the Big Bang, etc.), then I'd really enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Oh, and I'm new to this forum.

    Jagella


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  3. #2 Re: The Quantum Mechanics of The Grand Design 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jagella
    I recently read Stephen Hawking's new book, The Grand Design. Although I originally bought the book to see what Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (the coauthor) had to say about the necessity of invoking God to explain the origin of the universe, I found myself becoming very curious about the science presented in the book especially the quantum mechanics. I'd like to learn more about quantum mechanics.

    So where might I start? Can any of you talented physicists explain the basics of quantum mechanics in layman's terms? What mathematical disciplines are involved in the study of quantum physics? Can you recommend any books that are good introductions to quantum mechanics?

    And if any of you have read The Grand Design or pondered some of its issues (God as a cause of the Big Bang, etc.), then I'd really enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Oh, and I'm new to this forum.

    Jagella
    Try reading volume 3 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. That book presents Feynman's explanation of quantum mechanics in an introductory physics class. The level of mathematics is about as simple as it can be for quantum mechanics -- basically just calculus.

    To get into quantum mechanics, particularly the quantum field theory that is necessary for particle physics and cosmology requires quite a bit more mathematics. In fact it is sufficiently demanding that the subject is usually reserved for graduate school.

    There are all sorts of explanations of quantum mechanics in "layman's terms" in the popularized accounts of physics, some by Hawking. Howevr, those accounts do not really explain the basics of the subject, but only give a hint of the flavor and weirdness of quantum theory. There is no substitute for a physics test on the subject and that does require a bit of mathematics.


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  4. #3 Re: The Quantum Mechanics of The Grand Design 
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    Try reading volume 3 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. That book presents Feynman's explanation of quantum mechanics in an introductory physics class. The level of mathematics is about as simple as it can be for quantum mechanics -- basically just calculus.
    Thanks, Dr. I just ordered a copy of volume 3 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics from Amazon.com. I've studied basic physics (mechanics, heat, and light) in the past along with basic differential and integral calculus. It looks like this book may keep me busy for a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    To get into quantum mechanics, particularly the quantum field theory that is necessary for particle physics and cosmology requires quite a bit more mathematics. In fact it is sufficiently demanding that the subject is usually reserved for graduate school.
    Maybe that's why Hawking's and Mlodinow's explanations often escape me. For instance, they say gravity created the universe because it shapes space and time by making it globally unstable.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    There are all sorts of explanations of quantum mechanics in "layman's terms" in the popularized accounts of physics, some by Hawking. Howevr, those accounts do not really explain the basics of the subject, but only give a hint of the flavor and weirdness of quantum theory. There is no substitute for a physics test on the subject and that does require a bit of mathematics.
    Thanks for the information!

    Jagella
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  5. #4  
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    Quantum mechanics is pretty hard stuff, just keep up with the new notation.

    You should also look at the eigen function.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_Roberts
    Quantum mechanics is pretty hard stuff, just keep up with the new notation.
    Thanks Michael, but how tough is "tough"? I have some background in math and physics although I've never gotten into the mathematics of quantum physics that much. I've studied basic calculus and linear algebra. I also have a TI-92 graphing calculator which has good calculus features, and also have Mathcad software.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_Roberts
    You should also look at the eigen function.
    I just checked Ask's article, and I can see I need some more study.

    Anyway, I hope I don't come across as a geek, but I really like math and science. I'm really curious about issues like finding a grand unified theory. I have no plans to be a professional scientist but just want to have an idea of what it takes to know what's going on in the physics community.

    Thanks for the help!

    Jagella
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