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Reading list for learning Quantum Mechanics please

  1. Mar 10, 2015 #1
    Most probably, there was already a thread about this before, but I didn't find any with the search engine. Please, believe me, I tried a lot of words and found nothing like I'm gonna ask now.

    I'm not a physicist...in fact, I'm a Political Sciences student with a great passion for Philosophy. I did never like physics, I thought it was boring and dull. But with maturity I noticed that for a better philosophy, one must know how nature works. I'm a real fan of ontology and, having contact these days with some Quantum Mechanics, I saw in it a great source of philosophical debate, specially ontological, and, of course, a great source of wisdom. In the mechanics of nature we can find wonderful existential questions.

    I stumbled into this forum while researching about Time physics. And then read a reply of one member, that is currently inactive, about how the teaching and proper comprehension of Quantum Physics needs to be gradual. One must first learn "Classical" Physics, then move to other authors, then to others...all the "way up" until the modern Physicists.

    Well, to the request:

    I really would like a reading list and gradative-teaching book/articles guide so I can REALLY understand Quantum Physics.

    Thank you for your time.
    Best wishes!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Mar 10, 2015 #3
    Barring some unforeseen breakthrough, QM can really only be "understood" via the mathematical language used to describe it. And that means doing lots of problems. :)

    BUT one can have a decent layperson's grasp with a *conceptual* understanding of this mathematical language, IMO. I can also recommend McIntyre, an advanced undergraduate textbook on QM that emphasizes conceptual understanding.

    I can also recommend a lay book, Mad About Modern Physics
  5. Mar 10, 2015 #4
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. Mar 11, 2015 #5


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    Thalles, if I understood you correctly, you are actually interested not so much in physics in general, but in philosophy of physics, especially ontology. If so, then Jim Baggott may be the right author for you. He has written a book about general ontology in philosophy
    J. Baggott, A Beginner's Guide to Reality
    but also a philosophic introduction to quantum physics
    J. Baggott, The Meaning of Quantum Theory
  7. Mar 11, 2015 #6
    Yes. I'm really deep interested in Philosophical aproaches to Physics, but I also would like to know better things like: how the feck can a eletron act like a particle and a wave at the same time. What is singularity. What is Event Horizon. Etc.
    And I want a deep understanding of it...not youtube videos lol

    Thank you all for the wonderful replies!
  8. Mar 11, 2015 #7
    Physics doesn't answer this! In fact, nobody knows the definite answer to this.

    I see your questions are already philosophically minded. So would you really be interested in learning difficult math and physics which probably won't answer your questions?
  9. Mar 12, 2015 #8
    Sure. Why not? I've spent time studying anarchism, there's nothing worse than Emma Goldman :biggrin: so, hit me.
  10. Mar 12, 2015 #9
    So what knowledge of math and physics do you have?
  11. Mar 12, 2015 #10
    High school.
    And since I'm doing Political Sciences school, I think I don't remember all the things of then.
    But reading and exercising is not a problem for me when I want to learn.

    Thank you.
  12. Mar 12, 2015 #11
    High school is a pretty meaningless term. I know people coming from high school who can barely solve quadratic equations, and I know people who know advanced calculus. So can you perhaps list a few topics that you think you know.
  13. Mar 13, 2015 #12
    Well, no one really understands it. That's why it's so loaded with complicated math, if it was something anyone could just understand then there would be no need to abstract everything.

    Those are three different things. In order:

    -Matter at the subatomic scale can be both a particle and a wave because matter at that scale obeys both the physics of point particles (kinetic energy, force, etc) and waves (interference, fields, etc). The situation determines whether you need to consider the behavior under investigation wave-like or particle-like. In the case of electrons, an example of wave behavior is interference patterns in a cathode ray tube, whereas an example of particle behavior is photon emission when an electron drops from a high energy state to a low energy state. It's both because it can act like both.

    -A singularity is a point or region where the predictable behavior of a system abruptly changes, usually in a way that could be described as "breaking down" or "blowing up". For instance, if I have the equation 1/(2-x), then the limit as I approach from the left is positive infinity, and the limit as I approach from the right is negative infinity. For every real number besides 2, the function is continuous and returns a single real number as its output, and at 2 its value is undefined. So that's a change in its behavior and one of the simplest kinds of singularities. Mathematically, that's essentially what's happening with the equations of spacetime curvature, but of course in a much more complicated way.

    -An event horizon is the distance from the center of a black hole from which everything that happens inside the black hole cannot effect anything that happens outside the black hole.

    Anyway, before getting into all of this, you should really think about learning the basic kinematics and electromagnetism first.
  14. Mar 13, 2015 #13
    I agree with you about quantum mechanics, but not really with the reasoning. Classical mechanics is pretty mathematically complicated too. It's fairly simple to grasp on an intuitive level, though.
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