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Does your understanding of Quantum mechanics complete

  1. Oct 9, 2009 #1
    ... after you've taken your first undergrad course in quantum mechanics? Or does it take years , perhaps even well after you've earned your pHd in physics , for your understanding of the basic and advanced principles of quantum mechanics to be complete? Too hard to tell for me, but if I only paid attention to how my professor teaches quantum mechanics and not fully sought after any other QM book that presents QM in a entirely different fashion from the way the professor presents it, my understanding of QM would not be compete even if I passed my professor's class.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2009 #2

    George Jones

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    This true of many things, not just quantum mechanics.
  4. Oct 9, 2009 #3
    Hmm, that's an interesing question. My best guess is that if you normalize to 1 being "perfect" understanding, then an undergrad course will put you at about .55. This is usually good enough if you're doing research that isn't heavily quantum mechanical, but which may once in awhile refer to it (i.e. particle astrophysics, biophysics, etc.) A year of graduate quantum will put that up at .75, which I think is enough to read papers that are quantum-heavy. This is usually a good idea if you're in high energy or (especially) condensed matter.

    Of course, I'm taking field theory right now, and I feel like I'm back down to .05. So maybe something is wrong with my model.
  5. Oct 9, 2009 #4


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    If a one-semester undergraduate course in QM gave a complete understanding of the subject, why would graduate students have to take two semesters of it? :confused:
  6. Oct 9, 2009 #5
    It's been close to two decades since I took my first quantum mechanics class, and it's one of those things that the more I learn about it, the less I think I really understand it.
  7. Oct 11, 2009 #6
    depends which book your class is taught from.

    those who read from Cohen-Tannoudji are better off than those who read from griffiths
  8. Oct 11, 2009 #7


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    I'm halfway through my first semester of graduate QM and only now are things starting to come together a little bit.

    It takes a while, but don't let that deter you from continuing your study of the subject. It's well worth it!
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