PHYS 5382 Overview

Fall 2002

Last edit: 29 July 2002

Prof. Thomas Coan (x8-2497)
Office: 4B Fondren Science


Welcome to PHYS 5382, quantum mechanics. This course, and its spring successor 5383, may be the most intellectually stimulating and demanding of your undergraduate career. Quantum mechanics is humanity's most sophisticated and successful theory of how the physical universe behaves. Acquiring a non-trivial understanding of the theory is a significant cultural achievement and something you should take pride in. Quantum mechanics is difficult to learn because, aside from its own technical jargon and mathematical formalism, it requires you to develop a new kind of physical intuition. We are very used to the classical world of accelerations, collisions and parabolic trajectories. We see these effects in our daily life. But quantum mechanics deals with phenomena very far removed from daily experience, and so the physical intuition we have developed in the course of our daily lives is not necessarily useful in trying to understand the quantum behavior of the universe. This failing of our mundane intuition will typically lead to some frustration when you try to understand "what is really going on" with quantum mechanics and when you try to solve the homework problems. You should not be overly concerned with this frustration. If you apply yourself, you will slowly find that quantum mechanics is indeed intelligible, if still somewhat mysterious.

Homework, Tests, Exams and Grades

You have to break a serious sweat to learn quantum mechanics. Homework is issued weekly and is graded. I encourage you to work together on the problems. However, the final write-up must be your own work. Submitted homework assignments that are suspiciously similar will annoy me. There will be 3 regular tests as well as a final exam. See the PHYS 5382 syllabus for details.

Your final grade will be based on a weighted sum of your performance on homework, tests and the final exam. Individual assignments do not receive a letter grade. You should see me personally to know how you are doing in the course. A stellar performance on the final exam can result in a course grade much better then the average course performance would yield. The relative course component weights used to determine the course grade are:

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