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Just a quick question: A wavefuntion is the function that determines the location of a particle (the probability) right? And what is a non-linear wavefunction?

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- Thread starter manzaloros
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- #1

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Just a quick question: A wavefuntion is the function that determines the location of a particle (the probability) right? And what is a non-linear wavefunction?

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selfAdjoint

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Linear in this case means you can add them and subtract them. Sometimes it helps to think of the analogy of sound waves where you can add tones (say C,E, and G on the piano) to make a new sound, a chord. You can add wave functions to make a new wave function, called a superposition, and this is a basic tool of quantum mechanics. So quantum mechanics is called a linear theory, because it relies so basically on this linear property of the wave functions.

There are a lot of open questions in advanced quantum theory, and people try all kinds of modifications to see if they can answer those questions. One of the ways they have done this is to abandon the linearity, to try to use wave functions that don't add, and therefore don't form superpositions, at least not in the old simple way. So far this research program is still alive, but without superposition its hard to find things out, so it doesn't have a lot to show. Linear QM is a tremendoiusly successful theory, that explains all kinds of weird things the experimenters have come up with.

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