Quantum Mechanics Demystified / Edition 1

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  • Fun FORMAT makes this complex subject EASY to GRASP
  • SOLUTIONS to typical problems are EXPLAINED in full DETAIL
  • Perfect for SELF-STUDY or CLASS supplement
  • Great for quick REVIEW or help PREPARE for the Physics Qualifying EXAM


Now anyone can master the basics of quantum mechanics — without formal training, unlimited time, or a genius IQ. In Quantum Mechanics Demystified, physicist (and student-savvy author) David McMahon provides an effective and illuminating way to learn the essentials of quantum mechanics.

With Quantum Mechanics Demystified, you master the subject one step at a time — at your own speed. This unique self-teaching guide is filled with solved examples throughout, and offers problems to try at the end of each chapter to pinpoint weaknesses. A final exam serves to reinforce concepts covered in the entire book.

This fast and entertaining self-teaching course makes it much easier to —

  • Master serious quantum mechanics in easy-to-follow steps
  • Cut through the jargon and learn how to do quantum mechanics using worked examples
  • Reinforce learning and pinpoint weaknesses with questions at the end of each chapter and a comprehensive final exam
  • Learn about Schrodinger's equation, one dimensional scattering, Hilbert space, and the density operator
  • Find extensive explanations of spin and angular momentum, vector spaces, matrix mechanics, the harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom
  • Perform better on qualifying or placement exams
  • Take a "final exam" and grade it yourself!

Clear enough for beginners but challenging enough for those who already know something about advanced physics, Quantum Mechanics Demystified is the best self-teaching tool you can find!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071455466
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/22/2005
  • Series: Demystified Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 393
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

David McMahon (Albuquerque, NM) works as a researcher in the national labs on nuclear energy. He has advanced degrees in physics and applied mathematics and has written several titles for McGraw-Hill.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1 Historical Review 1
Blackbody Radiation and Planck's Formula 1
The Photoelectric Effect 6
The Bohr Theory of the Atom 7
de Broglie's Hypothesis 10
Quiz 11
Chapter 2 Basic Developments 13
The Schrodinger Equation 13
Solving the Schrodinger Equation 18
The Probability Interpretation and Normalization 24
Expansion of the Wavefunction and Finding Coefficients 35
The Phase of a Wavefunction 44
Operators in Quantum Mechanics 46
Momentum and the Uncertainty Principle 54
The Conservation of Probability 59
Quiz 63
Chapter 3 The Time Independent Schrodinger Equation 65
The Free Particle 66
Bound States and 1-D Scattering 74
Parity 88
Ehrenfest Theorem 95
Quiz 96
Chapter 4 An Introduction to State Space 99
Basic Definitions 99
Hilbert Space Definitions 100
Quiz 110
Chapter 5 The Mathematical Structure of Quantum Mechanics I 111
Linear Vector Spaces 111
Basis Vectors 122
Expanding a Vector in Terms of a Basis 124
Orthonormal Sets and the Gram-Schmidt Procedure 124
Dirac Algebra with Bras and Kets 125
Finding the Expansion Coefficients in the Representation of Bras and Kets 127
Quiz 129
Chapter 6 The Mathematical Structure of Quantum Mechanics II 131
The Representation of an Operator 133
Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors 142
The Hermitian Conjugate of an Operator 152
The Commutator 167
Quiz 172
Chapter 7 The Mathematical Structure of Quantum Mechanics III 175
Change of Basis and Unitary Transformations 175
The Generalized Uncertainty Relation 185
Projection Operators 188
Functions of Operators 193
Generalization to Continuous Spaces 194
Quiz 203
Chapter 8 The Foundations of Quantum Mechanics 205
The Postulates of Quantum Mechanics 205
Spectral Decomposition 209
Projective Measurements 211
The Completeness Relation 212
Completely Specifying a State with a CSCO 220
The Heisenberg versus Schrodinger Pictures 221
Describing Composite Systems in Quantum Mechanics 222
The Matrix Representation of a Tensor Product 223
The Tensor Product of State Vectors 224
The Density Operator 226
The Density Operator for a Completely Mixed State 229
A Brief Introduction to the Bloch Vector 237
Quiz 239
Chapter 9 The Harmonic Oscillator 241
The Solution of the Harmonic Oscillator in the Position Representation 241
The Operator Method for the Harmonic Oscillator 250
Number States of the Harmonic Oscillator 253
More on the Action of the Raising and Lowering Operators 256
Quiz 258
Chapter 10 Angular Momentum 259
The Commutation Relations of Angular Momentum 260
The Uncertainty Relations for Angular Momentum 262
Generalized Angular Momentum and the Ladder Operators 262
Matrix Representations of Angular Momentum 272
Coordinate Representation of Orbital Angular Momentum and the Spherical Harmonics 283
Quiz 293
Chapter 11 Spin-1/2 Systems 295
The Stern-Gerlach Experiment 296
The Basis States for Spin-1/2 Systems 298
Using the Ladder Operators to Construct S[subscript x], S[subscript y] 300
Unitary Transformations for Spin-1/2 Systems 308
The Outer Product Representation of the Spin Operators 310
The Pauli Matrices 312
The Time Evolution of Spin-1/2 States 317
The Density Operator for Spin-1/2 Systems 328
Quiz 329
Chapter 12 Quantum Mechanics in Three Dimensions 331
The 2-D Square Well 332
An Overview of a Particle in a Central Potential 341
An Overview of the Hydrogen Atom 342
Quiz 356
Final Exam 357
Answers to Quiz and Exam Questions 363
References 385
Index 387
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    Quantum Mechanics Demystified is not the first quantum physics book I have read, but is the best by far. The numerous worked out examples and quizzes at the end of each section are very useful to make sure that you not only understand the formulas, but also can apply them to problems. The author's explainations of the formulas were outstanding. I particularly liked the first chapter of this book because it gave so much clarity and interesting information on topics like Bohr's theory of the atom. The only thing negative in this book were the many minor errors, such as adding negative signs or changing a differential sign to the reduced Planck's constant. Overall, the errors did not hurt this book, and I highly recommended it to anyone wanting to konw something about quantum mechanics.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2008

    Quantum Starter Kit

    In order to understand Quantum Mechanics, you have to understand the layers of math, McMahon shows you mathematics,some theoretical arguments, and the Calculus in a nice easy fashion so you can get into the subject. After the book, I had been demystified on the subject and could pursue other books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    I have to agree with the first reviewer...the errors are disconcerting. The author appears to be unable to even distribute terms properly. The current student may find this a helpful supplement if they are wary of the mistakes, however, there is VERY LITTLE in the way of theoretical explanation. There is little more than cookbook calculation style exercises. If you are interested in looking more deeply into quantum mechanics, this is not the book for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2007

    Undergrad Physics Student

    Unfortunately, I did not find this book sooner. The examples alone make quantum mechanics doable. If you do not have a professor who knows what he or she is doing and or a textbook that isn¿t very clear, buy this book. A great supplement to the first four chapters of Griffiths' Intro. to Quantum Mechanics.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Quantum Mechanics ReMystified

    While nobody would argue that Quantum Mechanics is an ideal subject for a "Dummy's Guide", this book is a good first attempt.

    Where it falls down is trying to be all things for all people - a friendly, easy-to-read introductory text (it isn't) and a Primer for Hilbert-Space notation (it does a fairly good job), and a review for old-timers wanting to brush up. Let us take these in order.

    While the language is fairly easy to grasp, the transition to esoteric subject matter without a solid grounding within the first few pages is off-putting; few readers will have the persistence to endure until the real meat-and-potatoes kick in. For example, the Rayleigh-Jeans formula is presented as an accomplished fact - yet in other introductory texts I've seen the same subject matter discussed on an intuitive level, based upon everyday phenomenon. Even Einstein provided an intuitive primer to his introduction to Special Relativity.

    By the time the reader achieves Chapter 4, most of the heavy-lifting is accomplished and much of what remains deals with Dirac functions, bra and ket Hamiltonian operators, and the various useful notational devices. Most of the rest of the book deals with expansions of the rudimentary concepts in earlier material into higher dimensions, more variables, superposition methods, and like subjects. As a light-weight review of the subject material for those already in the know, this will suffice [even if key derivations are glossed over]. I particularly enjoyed the Hilbert-Space discussion, although again this was reduced to an exercise in calculus rather than an attempt to render the subject transparent and intuitive. For those who want a beefy, man-sized chunk of hairy-chested quantum mechanics literature, this isn't it - I much prefer the two-volume Cohen-Tannoudji-Diu and Laloe references.

    While it is not uncommon to include spin-states and Pauli matrix methods in Quantum Mechanics-related subject matter, I've always felt that this is slightly outside the abstract foundations of the subject; i.e; it isn't based upon "pure" math. Anything that is derived from observational research is going to be eventually subject to change and reinterpretation - including it (as was done here) in introductory material automatically renders the text "datable".

    In general, I would have recommended steering clear of the rigors of physics per-se, and sticking to the mathematical abstraction at its core. Other authors have already done an excellent job of dealing with the minutiae of the physics-derived material.

    That said, anyone who is already well versed in second-level college math and who already has a solid background in physics will find the book a good read. On that basis I can recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    The 'Demystified' series is very helpful. McMahon's books are good introductions. One wonder sometimes though if the numerous errors, particularly in this one, are a concerted effort to make the reader extremely attentive. It is a contradiction that the author claims to help us 'do quantum mechanics' but puts so many errors on the way. Surprised that a publisher like McGraw Hill allows such sloppy editing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    As Quantum Mechanics is not exactly for the novice, This book WON'T have you wielding cold fusion in your basement, you wont make that anti-matter rocket you've been dreaming of... But, If you ARE familiar with Calculus, Trigonometry, Algebra, Physics, and Advanced physics (all through demystified) and have internet, library support- it can be a GOOD INTRODUCTION to quantum mechanics and you can START your antimatter projects around the house a little sooner... yes, your secrets out and you are on the list when you start buying these books!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2007

    Too many errors and typos

    Typos and errors at a rate of one per one or two pages. A student of the subject deserves better. It's amazing that McGraw-Hill allowed this book to go to print.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2005

    Straight forward and engaging

    As unintuitive as Quantum Mechanics may be, this book is really successful at helping one feel comfortable with the fundamental ideas. My intimidation with the subject collapsed quickly after starting it. I consider it essential for the student struggling through undergraduate Quantum Mechanics.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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