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Summer course on quantum mechanics and Mathemtica

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  • Subject: Summer course on quantum mechanics and Mathemtica
  • From: dan at (Dan Dill)
  • Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 14:33:12 -0400

	  P l e a s e   P o s t   a n d   D i s t r i b u t e

Hi everyone.

I wanted to let you know about a course I will be teaching in the second
summer term session at Boston University, July 5 to August 13, 1994.

	    An Explorer's Guide to Quantum Mechanics

	       (CH651 Molecular Quantum Mechanics)

The discovery of quantum mechanics is a crowning intellectual achievement of
the twentieth century.  On one level quantum mechanics is a door to our
understanding of the universe; on another it provides the foundation for much
of modern technology.

Learning quantum mechanics requires that everyday intuition be
abandoned, and so there are few guide posts to anchor understanding.
Indeed, Niels Bohr has said that ``Those who are not shocked when they
first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.''
As if things are not challenging enough, mastery is made more difficult
by the abstract nature of the mathematics of quantum mechanics.

Real understanding can only come from active exploration, but students
need an explorer's guide to find their way.  CH651 Molecular Quantum
Mechanics is just such a guide.  It is a novel exposition of quantum
mechanics based on Mathematica, Stephen Wolfram's system for doing
mathematics by computer.  Mathematica itself is a revolutionary
development.  It indeed ``does for mathematics what the calculator has
done for arithmetic.''  With Mathematica students new to quantum
mechanics are able to develop sophisticated quantum mechanical
applications, something not otherwise possible in an introductory
course.  The end result is that students learn to use quantum mechanics
with the same ease that they use calculus now, as a routine tool for
their own future explorations of the microworld.

Special note about prerequisites

Quantum mechanics is a fascinating subject and I am anxious to introduce
it to students as early as possible in their studies.  If you have
completed introductory courses in chemistry and physics, and are
comfortable with calculus of several variables, then you know enough to
do well in CH651 Molecular Quantum Mechanics.  If you have studied
quantum mechanics in a physical chemistry course, that will be a benefit
too, but I am willing to admit you without this experience, provided
your previous chemistry and physics courses were good ones.

The course will use TeX/Mathematica, on the Boston University UNIX
computer systems.  I do not assume *any* previous experience with
Mathematica, TeX or UNIX.  We'll learn everything we need as we go

Further Information

If you have any questions I'd be happy to hear from you at dan at or
(617) 353-9305.  Registration is through Boston University Summerterm,
(617) 353-6000.  If you decide to take this course --- and I certainly
hope you do! --- let me know and I will provide advance materials.


Dan Dill
dan at

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