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Good introduction to quantum Mechanics for beginners

  1. Mar 13, 2014 #1
    So I'm pretty new to the subject of quantum mechanics and was wondering if you folks know of any books or sites that give an introduction to Quantum mechanics. I should emphasis that I'm looking for rather basic explanations as my knowledge of the subject matter is minimal to nothing.

    Thanks for any help in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2014 #2
    What knowledge do you have right now? Do you know calculus? Linear algebra? Classical Mechanics? Electricity & Magnetism? Differential equations?

    Also, are you interested in some pop-sci explanation of QM or the actual real thing?
  4. Mar 13, 2014 #3
    I'm in grade 12 right now, and we have just started calculus so I know very basic differentiation, but other than that my knowledge is very little. My school only has physics in the second semester which means I have yet to do much with electricity and magnetism, but I do have some basic knowledge of the subject. As for the Quantum mechanics I am interested in learning, it would definitely be the real stuff, I want to stay as far away as I can from any sort of pop-sci QM.
  5. Mar 13, 2014 #4
    Well, then I'm afraid you're going to have to study the prerequisites first. The following book by Susskind should help you very much: https://www.amazon.com/The-Theoretical-Minimum-Start-Physics/dp/046502811X Other than that, there are the usual books on calculus, linear algebra and classical mechanics. QM isn't gonna make much sense to you without these prereqs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Mar 13, 2014 #5
    Ok, that is actually kind of what I expected. As for linear algebra would that cover 3 dimensional graphing or just the 2-D kinda stuff? I've done most high school level classical mechanics except for circular motion, unless of course classical mechanics covers more than what I think it does. Anyway I suppose I would need more of a foundation to build on, and tackle the smaller stuff first.

    Thanks for your help, and I will check out the book you mentioned
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Mar 13, 2014 #6
    Well, to be honest, you need the infinite dimensional case, which most linear algebra texts don't cover. Then again, most physicists starting QM don't know this, so don't consider this a necessary prereq. I would say you need to be very familiar with things like vector spaces, inner product spaces, spectral theorem, hermitian matrices, etc.

    I'd say you need to be comfortable with hamiltonian mechanics before being able to tackle QM.
  8. Mar 13, 2014 #7
    Considering I have never heard of the majority of the things you just listed I would have to agree.
  9. Mar 13, 2014 #8


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    Gold Member

    One of the few redeeming features of pop-sci crap is that is DOES whet some folks appetite for real science, so if you can keep in mind that they will oversimple some stuff and just get some stuff plain WRONG, then you don't need to avoid pop-sci versions. Just don't take it too seriously and if something doesn't pass any kind of smell test, come here and ask questions.

    Good luck with your studies
  10. Mar 13, 2014 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in the US, many students get their first exposure to QM in a second year college/university "intro modern physics" course which pre-supposes only calculus at the level needed for the typical first year introductory classical mechanics + E&M course. Typical textbooks include these:




    (after that, students move on to a full-on QM course using something like Griffiths)

    Even these books assume the student knows some integral calculus in addition to derivatives, so they might still be beyond the OP's reach.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Mar 13, 2014 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    At your level I recommend the four book sequence:

    That will take you pretty far for a HS student - at the level of second year college students in the US and first year in countries like the UK and Australia that have calculus as standard at HS.

    Eventually though you want a book that develops it from first principles in a complete way, including the difficult interpretive issues. That would be Ballentine:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  12. Mar 13, 2014 #11


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    You need to learn a lot more mechanics and electromagnetism before even venturing into QM. I'm curious though, because there was another thread not just a few days ago about another high schooler interested in learning QM, why exactly do you have this early interest in QM? When I was in the 12th grade the last thing I wanted to learn was QM :approve:

    Keep in mind that the popular things you may have seen about QM in TV shows and books are a far cry from what textbook QM is actually like. Textbook QM can be very dry and computational, at least in my opinion (once you start calculating Clebsch-Gordan coefficients you'll be wishing you were back to the pretty, geometrical EM problems). Take your time with mechanics and electromagnetism-you might even have much more fun with them than you will with QM (I sure did) not to mention they are absolutely fundamental if you want to get a deep understanding of any physical theory.
  13. Mar 13, 2014 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    Perhaps he (and the other poster) has thought about the hand-wavey stuff taught in grade 12 and HS in general about QM.

    It sucked me in. I went out to work, did a degree part time, but it was always there - what exactly is the wave particle duality, what is an observer, what is an observation.

    Then I read In Search of Schodinger's Cat which reported on Bell and the experiments of Aspect etc and I was totally hooked.

    I studied on my own with Dirac and Von Nuemann, and after what in hindsight was too long an interlude investigating tricky mathematical issues such as Rigged Hilbert Spaces, eventually discovered Ballentine. It was a revelation.

    Hopefully some of these bright HS students can be inspired towards the deeper understanding that will answer these questions.

    Of course they will be replaced by others of a much deeper nature such as why complex numbers - which has an answer of course - but again it raises others - its never ending.

  14. Mar 23, 2014 #13
    Thank you to all those who have helped I was on vacation this past week, so I was unable to respond to your replies, but rest assured I did read all of them and take each posts suggestions into considerations.

    As for what interests me in QM, I'd have to say it is the ambiguity of the subject upon first glance. QM, at least to me seems so... out there and I mean I can google what is happening, but I want to know why it is happening. So in short, the mystery associated with QM is what interests me in it.
  15. Mar 23, 2014 #14
    Sadly, QM is much more plain once you really start learning it. The book I'm reading right now, Griffiths (considered to be the easiest QM text out there), is full of integrals and calculations. All of the philosophical "mysteries", discussions, schroedinger's cat, etc are in the first chapter and last chapter.
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