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  1. #1 quantum mechanics 
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    hey I have tried many times to learn about quantum mechanics and every time i find the same thing. A list of a whole bunch on sub topics and I have no idea where to start. Could someone please give me an idea of what to look at first. thanks


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  3. #2  
    Forum Masters Degree bit4bit's Avatar
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    A good place to start is by looking at the wave-particle duality of light.

    i.e.
    -light can behave as a wave
    -light can behave as a particle (a 'Quantum' (packet) of energy)

    See if you can find any basic texts on the dual slit experiment, or on blackbodies relating to quanta.

    The main thing to start with is that in certain scenarios, continuous forms of energy can be considered 'discrete'.
    If you can get 'Quantum a guide for the perplexed' by Jim Al-Khalili thats a good book.

    good luck


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  4. #3  
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    A good place to start is by looking at the wave-particle duality of light.
    I don't mean to dispute a fellow poster, but this is a lousy place to start, IMHO. Do so and you will end up thinking of photons as little marbles, obeying the laws of classical physics. You'd be no closer to quantum mechanics than when you started but you now have a lot of misguided notions thrown in.

    Still, this destination is all that most people can handle and is really all they want. So I offer this reading list.

    Start with a description of the photoelectric effect, solved by Einstein in 1905. That will accustom you to the dual nature of light, little marbles and all.

    Then read of the solution to the Bohr atom, as demonstrated by Neils Bohr in 1913. That's what really convinced the physicists of the day that there was something to this mysterious quantum theory after all.

    Start a separate thread on each subject if you have questions.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Masters Degree bit4bit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF
    A good place to start is by looking at the wave-particle duality of light.
    I don't mean to dispute a fellow poster, but this is a lousy place to start,
    [...]
    Start with a description of the photoelectric effect, solved by Einstein in 1905. That will accustom you to the dual nature of light, little marbles and all.
    Thats basically what I said(?!), 'get accustomed with the duality of light'.^^^ :?

    Also This is how I started learning myself (I am perfectly content with my quantum concepts), and also how Jim Al-Khalili started with his brilliant book for the 'perplexed' that I have listed above.

    If you read up on some experiments of how light can behave as a wave, and some of how it can behave as a particle, then you will therefore have proof of each instance. What better place to then start learning about duality?

    It is also very important to understand the idea of continuous forms of energy being represented by discrete quanta in some circumstances.

    You have pretty much repeated what I said with two good reading examples:

    The model of the Bohr atom.
    Photoelectric effect.

    (the key to those in fact is the notion of discrete energy levels, and absorption/emission energies, something I already stated)
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  6. #5  
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    thanks guys, I already knew about wave-particle duality but I'll look into it a bit deeper. I'll look into the photoelectric effect and I learned about the Bohr-Rutherford model in science in grade 9 but I'm sure it goes a lot deeper than that and I'll see what the difference is between that and just the Bohr model.
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