The Teaching of Quantum Mechanics
This World Wide Web page written by
Oberlin College Physics Department;
last updated 18 January 2005.
These World Wide Web pages present tips and techniques that I have
found useful in teaching junior-senior level quantum mechanics courses.
In the flood of details, it is often hard to remember that the
three characteristic traits of quantum mechanics are probability,
interference, and entanglement.
- Probability in quantum mechanics is neither more nor less
difficult than probability in any other area.
- Every teacher of quantum mechanics should be aware of
the following four resources, which give exquisite experimental
evidence for quantal interference:
- A. Tonomura, J. Endo, T. Matsuda, T. Kawasaki, and H. Ezawa,
"Demonstration of single-electron buildup of an interference pattern",
American Journal of Physics, 57 (1989) 117-120.
of the experimental results described above.
- R. Gahler and A. Zeilinger, "Wave-optical experiments with very cold
neutrons", American Journal of Physics, 59 (1991) 316-324.
- Olaf Nairz, Markus Arndt, and Anton Zeilinger,
"Quantum interference experiments with large molecules",
American Journal of Physics, 71 (2003) 319-325.
- Different teachers and different texts vary considerably in the
question of how and whether to treat entanglement. Textbooks often
give little help. If you do wish to treat entanglement,
I recommend these articles:
- N.D. Mermin "Is the moon there when nobody looks?
Reality and the quantum theory", Physics Today,
38(4) (April 1985) 38-47.
- P.G. Kwiat and L. Hardy, "The mystery of the quantum cakes",
American Journal of Physics, 68 (2000) 33-36.
It is not surprising that I also recommend perusing the article:
(If you have the free
Acrobat Reader software, then you may read the above article by
clicking on its title. It is posted here with permission from
the American Journal Physics.
Copyright 1996, American Association of Physics Teachers. It may
be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior
permission from the author and the American Association of Physics
Teachers. This posted version has been modified slightly from the
version that appeared in the American Journal of Physics.)