PHILOSOPHY OF THE COURSE
PHYSICS 6/7710* and 6/7720
This course is taught in a somewhat different manner from that usually
followed in a graduate course in atomic structure. My approach
emphasizes the development of conceptual and intuitive insights
into quantum mechanical phenomena, as a prelude to their mathematical
specification. A few of my reasons for doing this are listed below.
It has been stated that with the advent of Quantum Mechanics
we lost all conceptual pictures, and only mathematics remains.
I strongly disagree with this statement, and the course will
attempt to refute this view.
Physics is NOT a way of thinking about Mathematics - Mathematics is
ONE way of thinking about Physics (and sometimes not the best initial
In the current Graduate Physics Curriculum, students learn
perhaps too much about
the Quantum Mechanics of the Hydrogen atom as of 1924, and certainly too
little about the conceptual impact of Quantum Mechanics on their
own fields of specialization in 2007.
Attempts will be made to structure the course in a manner that
balances conceptual models with mathematical formulations, with
applications to real data and to complex many-electron physical systems.
It should also be noted that, although extensive materials are
available at this Website, the primary emphasis of the
course is interpersonal and not electronic. The purpose of providing
these electronic materials is to free students from impediments
(such as note taking, etc) that could otherwise interfere with direct
interactions with the instructor.
L. J. Curtis
* To make this conceptual approach available to a wider audience, this
offering can also serve as a platform to construct an individualized course
"Atomic Structure with Specialized Applications" offered under a Special
Topics number. Students (both undergraduate and graduate) who have an
interest in this area but are excluded by the numbering level or
prerequisites of this course should contact me.