Physics 4610 Syllabus

Spring semester, 2018

Meeting time: MWF 12:30–1:20
Instructor: Daniel V. Schroeder
Office hours: MTThF 10:30–11:30. I will usually be in my office somewhat earlier and later than this hour as well. On MWF afternoons I will be in the computation lab (TY 127), and on Wednesday mornings I teach a lab in TY 226.
Office: TY 322
Phone: 801-626-6048 (note that I check email much more often than voicemail)
Email: dschroeder at weber dot edu
Course web site: http://physics.weber.edu/schroeder/quantum/

Text: I am in the early stages of writing a textbook for this course, and will hand out draft chapters in installments. If you would like to consult a more polished text, I recommend David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, second edition (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005, recently reprinted by Cambridge University Press).

Why study quantum mechanics?

There are many practical reasons to study quantum mechanics, since it underlies and illuminates so many aspects of physics, chemistry, and modern technology. Furthermore, the mathematical tools of quantum mechanics (calculus, linear algebra, Fourier analysis) are used in a much wider array of scientific disciplines. More generally, studying quantum mechanics will continue to build your skills in problem solving and quantitative reasoning.

On a less practical level, many students are simply curious about quantum mechanics, since it makes such outrageous assaults on our common ways of thinking about the world. Personally, I also find it highly satisfying to “understand” nature at the deepest possible level. But perhaps most importantly, quantum mechanics forces us to think in new, unfamiliar ways: to develop intuition for the counter-intuitive. It is this kind of experience that constitutes education in the truest sense. Thus I hope you will find your study of quantum mechanics to be not merely informative, but also liberating.

Summary of topics

This course will treat the theory of quantum mechanics at a more advanced level than you saw in your Introductory Modern Physics (2710) course. While this is mostly a course in quantum theory, I will also try to introduce some applications as time allows. Here is an outline of topics (see also the table of contents in your draft textbook):

Course policies

Please try to read the assigned sections of the draft textbook before coming to class, and bring questions. Although I will lecture on much of this material, I will also try to reserve time for discussion and for hands-on activities. I expect you to attend regularly.

We will have 10 problem sets. As usual in a theoretical physics course, this is where most of the learning will take place. The problem sets are not tests, and you are not expected to be able to solve every problem correctly the first time, on your own. On the other hand, you won’t learn anything if you rely on others too heavily as you work the problems. So here are the rules:

Take pride in your work! Your final written solutions to problem sets should be clearly presented and fully explained, at a level of detail that any of your classmates could read and understand. While your solutions needn’t be of publication quality, they should be reasonably legible and well organized.

Problem sets must be submitted on paper, not electronically. Please leave room in the margins for my comments.

Late problem sets will be marked down by 1/4 of the total credit for each day or partial day. However, only your 9 highest problem set scores (out of 10 total) will count toward your final grade, so you may miss one problem set without penalty. This policy should provide enough flexibility to accomodate most illnesses, family emergencies, unexpected romances, and the like. In the case of extended illness or other long-term emergency, please consult with me at the earliest opportunity.

We will have three closed-book midterm exams, each with a time limit of 90 minutes, given in the Tracy Hall testing center. You will have a 47-hour window (minus those hours when the testing center is closed) in which to take each exam.

At the end of the course you will complete a final project that will give you an opportunity to explore a topic in quantum physics in more depth, and report on it both orally and in writing. I will provide details about this assignment later in the semester.

Grades

I will calculate your final grades using the following percentage weights:

Problem sets (9 @4%)36%
Midterm exams (3 @15%)45%
Class participation7%
Final project12%

Miscellaneous

In the event of a snow day or other campus shutdown, please check your email as soon as you can for specific instructions regarding this course. Obviously I will not require you to turn in a problem set or take a test on a day when the campus is closed, but otherwise you should assume that all deadlines are still in effect unless I explicitly modify them. It is your responsibility to make sure I have your correct email address.

Any student requiring accommodations or services due to a disability must contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in room 181 of the Student Service Center. SSD can also arrange to provide course materials (including this syllabus) in alternative formats if necessary.

Academic dishonesty, though rare, occasionally does occur in physics classes, so the following policies are necessary. Inappropriate collaboration or other dishonesty on homework will result in a zero grade for that problem set on the first occurrence and failure in the course thereafter. Dishonesty of any sort on a test or final project will result in automatic failure in the course. In serious cases, evidence of dishonesty may also be presented to the appropriate hearing committee for possible further sanctions.