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 way).

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.

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