# Physics 116 - Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics describes the strange and marvelous behavior of
matter on the smallest scales of length, mass, and energy. In
this course we explore the structure and behavior of atoms and
subatomic particles.
There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men
understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there
ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one
man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he
wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people
understood the theory of relativity in some way or other,
certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can
safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.
Richard Feynman, BBC Publications, 1965, p. 129.

### Text

Feynman's remark notwithstanding, the course will follow Professor
Townsend's text A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics, which
begins with Dirac bra-ket notation for quantum states and explores the
fundamental particle-wave duality of matter beginning with several versions
of the Stern-Gerlach experiment. Over the semester we shall endeavor to
cover the material in the text through perturbation theory, with the
exception of path integrals in chapter 8. In addition, I
recommend Richard
Feynman's QED to provide a broad and nonmathematical
background for the ideas expressed more abstractly and mathematically in
Townsend's text.

### Reading Assignments and Quizzes

I have prepared a series of reading quizzes to
accompany Prof. Townsend's text. These quizzes serve a variety of
purposes.
- They help guide you in reading the day's assignment by
suggesting points of interest and importance; quizzes are open book.
- They help me determine what concepts require extra attention in class.
- They encourage you to struggle with technical reading independently.
- They permit me to devote greater attention to concepts and
understanding in class.
- They encourage you to formulate your own questions about the material.

© 2004-5 Peter N. Saeta • saeta (at) hmc (dot)
edu

Last modified 2006-03-26 14:54