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Non-mathematical philosophy of quantum mechanics.

  1. Jun 27, 2008 #1
    I've been studying undergraduate level quantum chemistry, and I have a quick question. (Feel free to make the answers as mathematical as you want)

    In the helium atom, does an individual wavefunction describe the state of a single electron, or the system in general (given an arbitrary but allowed energy level)? If it describes the entire system, how can the probability interpretation of the wavefunction be used?
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Strictly speaking, the wave function for a two-electron system such as helium, is a single function of six position variables (three for each electron) plus time: [itex]\Psi(x_1, y_1, z_1, x_2, y_2, z_2, t)[/itex]. It gives the joint probability density for finding electron #1 at [itex](x_1, y_1, z_1)[/itex] and electron #2 at [itex](x_2, y_2, z_2)[/itex], at time t.
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