Physics: A Prelude to Quantum Mechanics

Many experiments carried out about 100 years ago could not be explained by Classical Physics, paving the way to the development of new paradigms that are nowadays referred to as Quantum Mechanics. Modern Physics is thus not necessarily contemporary, but it addresses the physics of matter at the atomic level, whose description defies the usual paradigms contemplated in Classical Physics, such as Mechanics, Wave Phenomena, and Thermodynamics. Quantum Mechanics is the basis necessary to understand much of contemporary physics.

Following a brief description of the cornerstones of Classical Physics, the course will illustrate some experiments that cannot be explained with concepts rooted in Classical Physics. We will then introduce ideas that are fundamental to Quantum mechanics, such as photons, the “particle-wave” duality, and probabilities. The course will also illustrate some applications of these concepts with experimental demonstrations of quantum phenomena, such as the principles of lasers and high temperature superconductivity.

Since the beginning of the course, students will be involved in computer-based projects. The aim of these projects is to provide the visualization of concepts which are of fundamental importance for describing the vibrations of classical systems and the behavior of electrons when they are constrained to move in a box. The students will learn how to apply the ideas learned in the course, and implement them by writing a computer code with the help of a professional computer scientist.

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