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Understanding Quantum Physics

  1. Oct 24, 2013 #1
    I'm sure you all see threads like this often, but I'm just getting started with understanding Quantum physics in general. I know how broad that statement is, however as you can tell, I don't know how to specify due to my lack of knowledge on the subject. When you all first started your studies, what textbooks did you use to start? Can anyone link me online papers and/or textbooks of which I can buy? I've been reading threads, however I don't understand a lot of the content due to my lack of knowledge. Where did you all start, can anyone outline the basics of Quantum Physics for me, and possibly link work to learn from? Thank you, and pardon my ignorance in the subject.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2013 #2
  4. Oct 24, 2013 #3
    How serious do you want your treatment of quantum mechanics to be?

    Popular science level? University level?

    If the latter, what is your math and physics background?
  5. Oct 24, 2013 #4
    I wanted to proceed to a popular science level at this point. I'm attempting to sustain enough information in order to soon help me enter a particular school in my area. Although not mandatory, I wanted to try to learn more (whereas I'm not skilled in the subject at all, obviously) for the sake of interest and through communications I'm having with the school, e.t.c. It's a bit complicated.
    Anyway, I want to attempt to reach at least a popular science level for now, however I will most likely end up taking it farther assuming I get into the school. Thank you for the books, Stevie. I'll order them right away. :)
  6. Oct 24, 2013 #5


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    Have you taken (or do you understand) linear algebra?
  7. Oct 24, 2013 #6


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    Nobody 'understands' quantum physics. Its the science version of magic. You learn the concepts then misapply them to arrive at illogical conclusions.
  8. Oct 25, 2013 #7
    I wouldn't go that far. The conclusions you reach are perfectly logical within the framework of the theory.

    Honestly, with all of physics I don't think anyone understands it if you look deep enough. You can be an expert in a theory, and know exactly how to apply it to solve problems, but at the end of the day you can never quite put into words what it all means. That's part of the wonder/tragedy of being human - that we've been able to do so much by mostly fumbling around in the dark.
  9. Oct 25, 2013 #8
    I'm also trying to understand quantum physics and all of physics on my own. Some things I learned so far: quantum is one of the most fundamental theories of physics. Physicists say it is more fundamental than classical mechanics (e/m, dynamics, optics, even atomic physics). It explains what happens to things at extremely small sizes and very low temperature/ energy. Everything is probabilistic at that realm. You can't say anything for sure about something unless you measure it. You can only have one aspect of it certain at a time. Like you can only know the velocity or the position. Energy occurs in packets that can't be divided called quanta (hence quantum mechanics). Quantum physics is used to explain the fundamental forces of nature through quantum field theory . Only force not explained yet is gravity although I remember physics teach telling me gravity isn't a real force.
  10. Oct 25, 2013 #9


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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  11. Oct 25, 2013 #10
    :rofl: That is the most honest statement I have seen and I am in full agreement.
  12. Oct 25, 2013 #11


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  13. Oct 25, 2013 #12
    Yes, I understand linear algebra.

    And I think the ideal that Quantum Physics being something that you don't necessarily 'understand' is interesting. Although I clearly know nothing about the subject, there must be some form of understanding everyone has on the subject, or there would be no content to work off of...Other than that, that statement is pretty helpful. :)

    Delong, that summary was incredibly helpful. Definently gives me a good concrete base, although some of the information I already knew. :) Thanks.
  14. Oct 26, 2013 #13
    glad I could help somewhat.
  15. Oct 26, 2013 #14
    Khan academy helped me with the math of QM. You can only truly understand QM when you get the math.
  16. Oct 28, 2013 #15
    Also you can learn QM both mathematically and intuitively from the Stanford YouTube series
  17. Oct 28, 2013 #16
    Thanks a bunch. :) For some more background, I'm using the MIT Opencourse stuff in other subjects so that I can work up to the level a little bit better. I did find that a lot of the stuff there is below me, but I can definintely dig through what I know. Thanks for the further information, I'll check out the series right away. :)
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