Friday, July 18, 2008

The Quantum World

I gave myself an early Christmas present yesterday and signed up for the OU's third-level quantum mechanics course, SM358 - The Quantum World.

As I have found with the classical electromagnetism course (SMT359) now 75% completed, to properly understand these rather sophisticated concepts needs time and immersion, not just reading some popularisation or scanning a textbook.

With CERN's Large Hadron Collider powering up in late Autumn, I expect new physics around this time next year - SM358 is coming along just in time!

Meanwhile I have been wrestling with the mathematics of charged particles moving relative to magnetic fields. Maxwell's equations treat the following cases differently:
  • the charged particle is moving and the magnetic field is stationary (the Lorentz force law)

  • the charged particle is stationary and the magnetic field is moving (Faraday's law)
This was one of the issues which led Einstein to special relativity.

Anyway, I have not properly understood how to think about this, so I wrote up my queries in a note to my OU tutor, which you can read here. Sent just a few moments ago.