Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Basic treatment of the hydrogen atom through wave mechanics.

  1. Jan 15, 2009 #1
    Hey there. I'm trying to redo basic quantum chemistry with a lot more rigor. I'm currently using Pauling's "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics With Applications to Chemistry". Here is a copy of the page(s) I will be referring to:


    I'm getting caught up in the basic details. So... I have a few questions for the experts.

    1. The potential energy operator is defined as -Ze^2/r. Excuse my stupidity, but why was the factor of k (1 / 4*pi*epsilon) left out? It seems like the rest of the equation is in SI.

    2. The Schrodinger equation can be separated into the product of a wavefunction which deals with the translational motion of the atom, and another wavefunction which describes the interaction between the proton and electron.... It makes sense to me to let x,y, and z equal the center of mass of the system. I'm a little confused as to why the "relative" x,y, and z coordinates are used for the substitution in spherical coordinates. Rather... I don't understand the consequences of such substitutions. You can't really interpret the system graphically in terms of the usual r/theta/phi, because they don't have their usual meaning in this case.

    The rest is just calculus which I can definitely handle :) Any help would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I would pick up a more modern textbook, there are plenty of them
  4. Jan 18, 2009 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    He's probably using Gaussian (cgs) units, in which the unit of charge is defined such that Coulomb's Law reads

    [tex]F = \frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}[/tex]

  5. Jan 18, 2009 #4
    Thanks to both =)

    Why do you think I should pick up another book? Is the treatment of the hydrogen atom archaic, or is the use of units archaic? Every other undergraduate quantum chemistry book I looked at is really light on the math. And I don't quite feel the need to expose myself to too many applications which don't deal with chemistry.

    Anyway... What book would you recommend?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook