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Feynman On Quantum Mechanics
Feynman On Quantum Mechanics 01
Feynman On Quantum Mechanics 02
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Feynman On Quantum Mechanics

Part One/Four

Protons

In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic "unit" of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. The effects of this force are easily observable at both the microscopic and macroscopic level, because the photon has no rest mass; this allows for interactions at long distances. Like all elementary particles, photons are governed by quantum mechanics and will exhibit wave-particle duality – they exhibit properties of both waves and particles. For example, a single photon may be refracted by a lens or exhibit wave interference, but also act as a particle giving a definite result when quantitative mass is measured.

The modern concept of the photon was developed gradually by Albert Einstein to explain experimental observations that did not fit the classical wave model of light. In particular, the photon model accounted for the frequency dependence of light's energy, and explained the ability of matter and radiation to be in thermal equilibrium. It also accounted for anomalous observations, including the properties of black body radiation, that other physicists, most notably Max Planck, had sought to explain using semiclassical models, in which light is still described by Maxwell's equations, but the material objects that emit and absorb light are quantized. Although these semiclassical models contributed to the development of quantum mechanics, further experiments proved Einstein's hypothesis that light itself is quantized; the quanta of light are photons.

In the modern Standard Model of particle physics, photons are described as a necessary consequence of physical laws having a certain symmetry at every point in spacetime. The intrinsic properties of photons, such as charge, mass and spin, are determined by the properties of this gauge symmetry.

The photon concept has led to momentous advances in experimental and theoretical physics, such as lasers, Bose–Einstein condensation, quantum field theory, and the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics. It has been applied to photochemistry, high-resolution microscopy, and measurements of molecular distances. Recently, photons have been studied as elements of quantum computers and for sophisticated applications in optical communication such as quantum cryptography.

Part Two/Four

Reflection And Quantum Behaviour

Quantum reflection is a physical phenomenon involving the reflection of a matter wave from an attractive potential. In classical physics, such a phenomenon is not possible; for instance when one magnet is pulled toward another, you do not expect one of the magnets to suddenly (i.e. before the magnets `touch') turn around and retreat in the opposite direction.

Quantum reflection became an important branch of physics in XXI century. In a workshop about quantum reflection [1], the following definition of quantum reflection was suggested:

Quantum reflection is a classically counterintuitive phenomenon whereby the motion of particles is reverted "against the force" acting on them. This effect manifests the wave nature of particles and influences collisions of ultracold atoms and interaction of atoms with solid surfaces.

Observation of quantum reflection has become possible thanks to recent advances in trapping and cooling atoms. Utilization of this effect has only begun and holds many exciting promises.
Although the principles of quantum mechanics apply to any particles, usually the term quantum reflection means reflection of atoms from a surface of condensed matter (liquid or solid). It should be noted that the full potential experienced by the incident atom does become repulsive at a very small distance from the surface (of order of size of atoms). This is when the atom becomes aware of the discrete character of material. This repulsion is responsible for the classical scattering one would expect for particles incident on a surface. Such scattering is diffuse rather than specular, and so this component of the reflection is easy to distinguish. Indeed to reduce this part of the physical process, a grazing angle of incidence is used; this enhances the quantum reflection. This requirement of small incident velocities for the particles means that the non-relativistic approximation to quantum mechanics is all that is required.

Part Three/Four

Electrons And Their Interactions

An electron generates an electric field that exerts an attractive force on a particle with a positive charge, such as the proton, and a repulsive force on a particle with a negative charge. The strength of this force is determined by Coulomb's inverse square law. When an electron is in motion, it generates a magnetic field. The Ampère-Maxwell law relates the magnetic field to the mass motion of electrons (the current) with respect to an observer. It is this property of induction which supplies the magnetic field that drives an electric motor. The electromagnetic field of an arbitrary moving charged particle is expressed by the Liénard–Wiechert potentials, which are valid even when the particle's speed is close to that of light (relativistic).

A graph with arcs showing the motion of charged particles

A particle with charge q (at left) is moving with velocity v through a magnetic field B that is oriented toward the viewer. For an electron, q is negative so it follows a curved trajectory toward the top.

When an electron is moving through a magnetic field, it is subject to the Lorentz force that exerts an influence in a direction perpendicular to the plane defined by the magnetic field and the electron velocity. This centripetal force causes the electron to follow a helical trajectory through the field at a radius called the gyroradius. The acceleration from this curving motion induces the electron to radiate energy in the form of synchrotron radiation. The energy emission in turn causes a recoil of the electron, known as the Abraham-Lorentz-Dirac force, which creates a friction that slows the electron. This force is caused by a back-reaction of the electron's own field upon itself.

In quantum electrodynamics the electromagnetic interaction between particles is mediated by photons. An isolated electron that is not undergoing acceleration is unable to emit or absorb a real photon; doing so would violate conservation of energy and momentum. Instead, virtual photons can transfer momentum between two charged particles. It is this exchange of virtual photons that, for example, generates the Coulomb force. Energy emission can occur when a moving electron is deflected by a charged particle, such as a proton. The acceleration of the electron results in the emission of Bremsstrahlung radiation.

Part Four/Four

New Queries

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the elementary constituents of matter and radiation, and the interactions between them. It is also called high energy physics, because many elementary particles do not occur under normal circumstances in nature, but can be created and detected during energetic collisions of other particles, as is done in particle accelerators. Research in this area has produced a long list of particles.

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