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Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics Documents

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Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics 

written by Chandralekha Singh, Mario Belloni, and Wolfgang Christian

Richard Feynman once famously stated that nobody understands quantum mechanics. He was, of course, referring to the many strange, unintuitive foundational aspects of quantum theory such as its inherent indeterminism and state reduction during measurement according to the Copenhagen interpretation. But despite its underlying fundamental mysteries, the theory has remained a cornerstone of modern physics. Most physicists, as students, are introduced to quantum mechanics in a modern-physics course, take quantum mechanics as advanced undergraduates, and then take it again in their first year of graduate school. One might think that after all this instruction, students would have become certified quantum mechanics, able to solve the Schrödinger equation, manipulate Dirac bras and kets, calculate expectation values, and, most importantly, interpret their results in terms of real or thought experiments. That sort of functional understanding of quantum mechanics is quite distinct from the foundational issues alluded to by Feynman.

Published August 1, 2006
Last Modified June 22, 2008