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An important feature of the wave equation is that its solutions q(r, t) are uniquely specified once the initial values q(r, 0) and (del)q(r, 0)/@t are specified. As was mentioned before, if we view the wave equation as describing a continuum limit of a network of coupled oscillators, then this result is very reasonable since one must specify the initial position and velocity of an oscillator to uniquely determine its motion. It is possible to write down other “equations of motion” that exhibit wave phenomena but which only require the initial values of the dynamical variable — not its time derivative — to specify a solution. This is physically appropriate in a number of situations, the most significant of which is in quantum mechanics where the wave equation is called the Schrodinger equation. This equation describes the time development of the observable attributes of a particle via the wave function (or probability amplitude) . In quantum mechanics, the complete specification of the initial conditions of the particle’s motion is embodied in the initial value of . The price paid for this change in the allowed initial data while asking for a linear wave equation is the introduction of complex numbers into the equation for the wave. Indeed, the values taken by are complex numbers. In what follows we shall explore some of the elementary features of the wave phenomena associated with the Schrodinger equation.

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schrodinger equation, compex number, wave phenomena, chapter 15


Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


Version 8.2

Chapter 15

15 Schrodinger Equation

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