Schedule Times and places:
Homework: I'll assign weekly problem sets, due Wednesdays @ 11:59 pm. You may leave your homework in my mailbox near the physics department office, or of course you may give it to me personally (please do NOT leave it in the box beside my office or stick it under my door). Homework submitted late without prior arrangement will receive a 50% penalty if submitted within three days of the due date (i.e. by Saturdays @ 11:59 pm), and will not be accepted after that.
Why do the homework?
I can't emphasize enough the importance of working the problems.
In some of your
classes homework is primarily evaluative; the point is for you to
demonstrate what you've learned from the readings and lectures. In physics
the homeworks are primarily instructional;
you learn physics primarily by doing working problems.
You must work the
problems, think about the results, and understand any mistakes you've
made if you wish to attain the type of understanding of the subject
required of a working physicist. In at nutshell:
If you can't work problems you don't know physics.
I (or a grader) will grade the problems,
and I'll hand out solutions. I encourage
you to read the solutions and understand any mistakes immediately.
If it doesn't
make sense, ask me about it right awaydon't wait
until right before an exam.
Extensions
If you've got a compelling reason why you need an extension,
come talk to me in advance.
I will not grant a homework extension without penalty if you ask for
it on the day the homework is due, so don't ask for one.
[If you need such a lastminute or postfacto extension due
to extenuating circumstances (e.g. death in the family, sudden
illness, travel problem), you'll need to have the Dean of Students
or your Class Dean formally make such a request to me and suggest
a rescheduled due date. You should also take this route if you
need an extension but you don't want to tell me why (say, it's for
personal or legal reasons). If you explain your reason to a Dean
and the Dean tells me it's OK, that's good enough for me.]
In general, though,
life will be easier for you and for me if you get into the habit
of doing your best to finish the problem set on time and handing
in as much as you've been able to complete by the deadline.
The College requires that all written work for a course except for a final be submitted by 5 pm on the last day of classes. The physics department takes this deadline seriously. After that day/time, no homework or lab reports will be accepted, nor will I conduct exit interviews for labs.
The roles of lectures and textbooks
Lecture will not be a regurgitation of the text, a summary of all
you need to know for the course, or a howto guide for the homework.
Rather, I'll try go deeper into selected points.
In lecture I'll cover material and do demonstrations
related to the readings, but I won't feel obliged to
be comprehensive in those places where I feel the text is adequate
and I may focus only on a few points that I feel are particularly
interesting or subtle. You shouldn't expect to understand what's
going on without close study of the readings, and you
should come to class with questions you have
on the readings. Further, after we settle into the semester
a bit, I expect the classes will become less lectureoriented
and more participatory; it will be difficult to reap
the maximum benefit from that format if you're not
sufficiently prepared to fully participate.
For the problems you can't solve, talk to classmates, attend the problem sessions, or ask me. When you ask me, either try to give you just enough of a hint to get you through, or I'll guide you through the problem with a series of leading questions. I'll never just tell you how to do it. If you run out of time and don't finish the set, start earlier next week. When the solutions come out, look over them right away, before you've forgotten all of the points you were confused about. You think you'll just get clear on it before the next exam, but there's never as much time as you think.
On the other hand, if you find the class too slow for your liking, if you have questions that you aren't getting answers to, if you'd like more detail, if you are frustrated that we aren't digging deeply enough, if you crave more applications, come talk to me. I'm very happy to provide you with additional materials or explanations that will will stimulate you and challenge you at whatever level you can handle.
One word of warning: Amherst College students tend to have lots of extracurriculars of all types. I support this (enthusiastically), and I am occasionally willing to be flexible to facilitate your participation in range of activities, but don't let your extracurriculars overshadow your academics. If you become concerned that your courses are getting in the way of your extracurriculars, you definitely have the wrong mindset. Remember why you're here.
If circumstances in your life beyond the class are the problem, you can come talk to me, but also talk to your class Dean.
Key derivations / chains of logic / results to commit to memory
Mathematica Tutorials
We will use Mathematica 5.0 at least occasionally in the homework,
to obtain numerical solutions to problems that are not
analytically solvable and to simplify plotting of results.
If you've never used Mathematica before, or haven't used it much,
the tutorials will help you get started.
They were written by Professor Hilborn and revised by
Rebecca Erwin '02. If you download the file and save it to the
desktop with a .nb suffix in the name, your computer will recognize it
as a Mathematica notebook and will start up Mathematica automatically
when you doubleclick on the icon,
provided you have Mathematica installed. Mathematica is installed on
lots of the college's public machines, including
on the computers in the Physics
Department computer lab. Alternately, you can pay the $140 or so
to buy the student version.
Week  Notes  Hmwk  
1. September 6  Variational Principles in QM Sept 8: Introduction to the course / Variational principle General course information. Variational principles in QM. 
Read: Griffiths, Chap 7: Variational Principles Problems: Griffiths (2nd ed), 7.4, 7.7, 7.10, 7.14, 7.15, 7.16, 7.18, 7.19, 7.20 

2. September 13  Variational Principles and Scattering Sept 13: Variational Principle [Handout: sections of Schaum's QM, for review] Sept 15: Scattering 
Read: Griffiths, Sec. 2.52.6 (review discussion of scattering) Problems: Griffiths (1st ed.), 2.27, 2.32, 2.34, 2.35, 2.48, 2.49 

3. September 20  1D Scattering Sept 20 (morning): Talks Maggie McKeon: Neutron stars for undergraduates Tarun Menon: Tunneling ionization of atoms Sept 20 (afternoon): 1D scattering Sept 22: More 1D scattering 
Read: Griffiths, Chap 11 (scattering) Problems: Griffiths (1st ed.): 11.1 (as Griffiths suggests, seek help from a mechanics book with this one), 11.2, 11.6, 11.10, 11.12, 11.13, 11.14, 11.15 

4. September 27  3D Scattering Sept 27 (morning): Talks Nathaniel Reden: Energy conservation in quantum mechanics Ben Heidenreich: Schiff's Theorem Sept 27 (afternoon): 3D scattering Sept 29: More 3D scattering 
Read: Griffiths, Chap 11 (scattering) Problems: Griffiths (1st ed.): 11.3, 11.4, 11.7, 11.8 (short one this week) 

5. October 4  TBA
Oct 4 (morning): Talks Tarun Menon: BoseEinstein condensation in the alkali gases: Some fundamental concepts (about first 10 pages) Maggie McKeon: A remarkable mathematical property of the Lande factor in quantum mechanics Oct 4 (afternoon): Oct 6: 
Read: Problems: 

6. October 11  TBA
Oct 11: Fall Break Oct 13: 
Read: Problems: 

7. October 18  TBA
Oct 18 (morning): Talks Nathaniel Reden: What is a state in quantum mechanics? American Journal of Physics, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 348350, March 2004 Oct 18 (afternoon): Oct 20: 
Read: Problems: 

8. October 25  TBA
Oct 25 (morning): Talks Maggie McKeon: Tarun Menon: BoseEinstein condensation in the alkali gases: Some fundamental concepts (about pages 1020) My talk is going to be based on the same Legget paper I talked about last time. This time, IÕll be covering material from pages 1020. I am going to be talking about the effect of interatomic interactions in a BoseEinstein Condensate. I will talk about the GrossPitaevskii approximation that describes these interactions. I am also hoping to include some of the work we have been doing in the lab on tunable interactions. To this end I will be talking about Feshbach resonances. I couldnÕt track down an appropriate paper, but IÕll try to keep it simple, and hopefully the fact that weÕve just covered scattering theory will help. I will also talk about phase separation in double condensates. Oct 25 (afternoon): Oct 27: 
Read: Problems: 

9. November 1  TBA
Nov 1 (morning): Talks Nathaniel Reden: Neutrino physics: An update American Journal of Physics, Vol. 72, No. 1, pp. 1824, Jan. 2004 The paper is mostly particle physics, and not explicitly quantum mechanics, but I will attempt to build a quantum mechanical framework for the neutrino at the beginning of the talk, during which I will discuss the background to neutrino physics. We will examine the three flavors of neutrino and the neutrino mass(es). From there I will move on to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory experiment, and talk about how the measurements taken there differ from those taken at the SuperKamiokande detector. If there is time I will attempt to discuss the KamLAND experiment as well. Nov 1 (afternoon): Nov 3: 
Read: Problems: 

10. November 8  TBA
Nov 8 (morning): Talks Maggie McKeon: Anomalies in quantum mechanics: the inversesquared potential American Journal of Physics, Vol. 70, No. 5, pp. 513519, May 2002. This paper looks at potentials that give rise to a classical valid symmetry that is broken due to quantization. The 1/r^2 potential is a specific example that the paper discusses, along with some experimental consequences. Tarun Menon: Quantum Mechanics Helps in Searching for a Needle in a Haystack PRL 79, 325328 (1997) My talk will be on Grover's search algorithm. It is a quantum algorithm designed to solve problems such as searching a database for a particular telephone number. It allows us to perform this process in a fewer number of steps than the most efficient classical algorithm, and really illustrates the power of quantum computing. It could be particularly effective in cryptanalysis, allowing us to search a large number of keys in a fraction of the time required now. Nov 8 (afternoon): Nov 10: 
Read: Townsend section Problems: Townsend, 14.3, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6, 14.7 

14. December 9  TBA
Dec 9: Dec 10: (Last day) Dec 11: Reading period Dec 13: Reading period 
Read: Problems: 

Finals week  Final exam: TBA 