Special Relativity 2: Spacetime & Space Travel eBook

Quantum Mechanics 3:
& Virtual Particles

Robert L. Piccioni, Ph.D.

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This book is the third stage of our exploration of Quantum Mechanics in the Everyone’s Guide Series. Here, we explore the heart of Quantum Mechanics: wavefunctions, the Schrödinger wave equation, superposition, and the virtual particles that spring forth thanks to the Uncertainty Principle.  We will see how these remarkable concepts apply to real particles in real high-energy physics experiments.

Readers will benefit from a prior reading of Quantum Mechanics 1: Particle & Waves and Quantum Mechanics 2: Reality, Uncertainty & Schrödinger's Cat, although we do review the most important points in these books to make this book more self-contained.

Wave Packets
We think of particles as being localized — existing in specific locations at each instant of time. However, waves are not localized. Waves spread to fill all available space. How can a particle spread out? Quantum Mechanics conceives of particles as being wave packets. On the left side of the graphic above are five waves of different frequencies. On the right is the sum of these five waves — a wave packet.

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Quantum Mechanics 3: Wavefunctions, Superposition,
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