Wednesday, July 15, 2020

200 Days of Schrödinger

Since high school, I return periodically to a life goal of understanding the basics of quantum physics. The gateway drug has always been Schrödinger's 1926 equation. I just have to understand this equation before I die. If I don't, I'm sure I'll get over it.

So I have bought book after book alleging to explain quantum physics in simple terms. I had high hopes for Leonard Susskind's book, but he just knows too much to realize how un-simple his book is. I found that book so angering. He thinks he is making things so clear--and I'm sure he is if you already know quantum mechanics. It's a complete fail as far as I'm concerned if you're someone like me.

I have a completely different reaction to Daniel Fleisch's A Student's Guide to the Schrödinger Equation. How seemingly effortless it is to understand Dirac's bra-ket notation after I spent weeks reading and re-reading Susskind. Now, mind you, I come to Fleisch having re-read the early chapters of Susskind over and over. Each pass I take at the beginning of the journey I grow stronger.

Words that have wandered through my mind without meaning begin to fill with content. I know what the Hamiltonian is. Soon I hope to know what an eigenvalue is. Fleisch promises to give flesh not only to Schrödinger's own wave formulation but to the annoying matrix version of Heisenberg and the mature form given by Dirac.

We will see! I'm now two weeks into the book at a page a day. I am astounded at Fleisch's clarity! So with some trepidation I announce what I have been calling these days--"200 Days of Schrödinger," give or take. On my current timeline, I should finish the book by the end of January.

Then perhaps I will be able to finish one of the many novels I have started, with the name itself, Schrödinger's Equation.

1 comment:

John Mark said...

It has been said that we don't know how much we don't know. That is why I read you. I still don't know how much I don't know, but I know a good bit more about what I don't know than I did before. :) John Mark.