Monday, 2 September 2013

SM358 quantum physics TMA04

So final TMA submitted for SM358 but still have 3 on line assessments to complete one nearly finished and of course I missed out on TMA02 as was bogged down in completing the EMA for the music course and desperately attempting to do revision for Fluids

TMA04 concentrates on the first part of the 3rd block quantum mechanics of matter this involves an overview of the hydrogen atom and it's wave functions, and it's extension to many electron atoms plus an introduction to pertirbation theory. The rest of the unit is (IMHO) a rather inadequate introdution to molecular physics, Solid state physics and quantum optics. Each of these deserve at least a 30 point unit to themselves and again I feel the OU is selling it's physics graduates short. Anyone thinking that by completion of this course, electromagnetism and say the relativistic universe has a degree equivalent to that of a standard course in undergraduate physics would be kidding themselves. Still I don't write the rules and it is not the point of this post to beef (yet again ) about the gulf between OU courses and those of brick univesities.

So the questions on this TMA divided into 3

1) A question based on one particular wave function of the hydrogen atom, calculating various quantities such as the expection value of 1/r and 1/r^2 and their uncertainty. As they say in the books this was tedious but straightforward

2) Again more questions on the hydrogen atom wave functions involving a hypothesised modification to the coulombic interaction. In the context of the hydrogen atom this is obviously unphysical however it may correspond to the force between two nucleons such as the potential between two deuterons. Any way the point was to test our ability to calculate the first order corrections to a change in the potential. Again this was straightforward but tedious and it took a couple of goes before all the signs and factors of pi cancelled out to get the correct answer.

One of the skills one needs in solving problems concerning hydrogen atom wavefunctions is patience and the ability to obtain the correct numerical factor. This is somewhat tedious but a necessary skill just hope the exam questions aren't so pernickity and fiddly.

3) The final question probably the most straightforward involved calculation of the various atomic terms associated with a multi electron atom and their degenaricies. Just one point that wasn't really mentioned in the text namely how to correlate the total number of States given with a given L and S nuimber with the individual l and s numbers of the valence electrons. Fortunately an example in the additional exercise book gave a clue

So all in all I think I've done reasonably well on this TMA. I omitted an essay type question at the start of question 3.

So that apart from completing the exam and the online assessments is that as far as quantum mechanics goes. It really doesn't seem all that long ago since I started and now it's more or less finished the feeling does seem a bit weird to say the least but the same is true of any OU course. It is just rather a pity to say the least that there are no follow up courses as far as the OU is concerned.