Quantum Theory (notes 2)

It took a while, but I have now read Susskind’s Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum. 346 pages of mathematics. But not mathematics you’d recognise (unless you’re a physicist, I suppose). According to Susskind, we don’t have the sensory apparatus to sense quantum mechanical effects (in the way we obviously do have the senses for the classical mechanical world which is all around us), so abstract mathematics takes the place of the senses needed. I get this. The maths presented in the book is a journey to understanding, and the mathematical language that developed for Quantum Mechanics was forged to be fit for purpose; abbreviations and short-hand formulations were constantly being invented to simplify the appearance of the maths, and to make it easier to manipulate. And always, experimental observations impose the constraints on the maths needed to describe the reality. Out of this framework the understanding emerges. But very slowly, for me at any rate.

I feel that I have a better understanding of how the Uncertainty Principle comes about, but I can’t put my finger on it. Generally, my grasp of Quantum Mechanics is improving, and I think this is to do with my developing understanding of what function the maths is serving. But I need to read some more. So, next, Lectures on Quantum Mechanics by Paul Dirac.


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