Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World

Course No. 1240
Professor Benjamin Schumacher, Ph.D.
Kenyon College
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Course No. 1240
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Course Overview

One day in 1900, German physicist Max Planck told his son that he had made a breakthrough as important as Isaac Newton's discovery of the workings of the universe. Planck had reached the surprising conclusion that light behaves as if it is packaged in discrete amounts, or quanta, a seemingly simple observation that would lead to a powerful new field of physics called quantum mechanics.

In the following decades, a series of great physicists built on Planck's discovery, including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Louis de Broglie, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman, and many others, developing quantum mechanics into the most successful physical theory ever devised—the general framework that underlies our understanding of nature at its most fundamental level.

Quantum mechanics gives us a picture of the world that is so radically counterintuitive that it has changed our perspective on reality itself, raising profound questions about concepts such as cause and effect, measurement, and information. Despite its seemingly mysterious nature, quantum mechanics has a broad range of applications in fields such as chemistry, computer science, and cryptography. It also plays an important role in the development and innovation of some of today's most amazing—and important—technologies, including lasers, transistors, microscopes, semiconductors, and computer chips.

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World gives you the logical tools to grasp the paradoxes and astonishing insights of quantum mechanics in 24 half-hour lectures designed specifically for nonscientists and taught by award-winning Professor Benjamin Schumacher of Kenyon College.

No comparable presentation of this subject is so deep, so challenging, and yet accessible. Quantum Mechanics is generously illustrated with diagrams, demonstrations, and experiments and is taught by a professor who is both a riveting lecturer and a pioneer in the field, for Professor Schumacher is an innovator in the exciting new discipline of quantum information.

Think Like a Physicist

Working on the principle that any discovery made by the human mind can be explained in its essentials to the curious learner, Professor Schumacher teaches you how to reason like a physicist in working out the features of the quantum world. After taking this course, the following apparently inexplicable phenomena will make sense to you as logical outcomes of quantum processes:

  • That quantum particles travel through space in the form of waves that spread out and are in many places at the same time
  • That quantum mechanics takes us to a bedrock level of reality where objects are utterly simple, identical in every respect
  • That two quantum particles can interact at a distance in a way that seems almost telepathic—a phenomenon that Albert Einstein called "spooky"
  • That even in the complete vacuum of empty space, there is still a vast amount of energy bubbling into and out of existence

Regarding the last phenomenon, you could say that quantum mechanics not only changes our view of everything, it also changes our view of "nothing!"

Quantum Puzzles

Quantum mechanics has even entered popular language with expressions such as "quantum leap," which is often used inaccurately to mean a radical transformation. In quantum mechanics, a quantum leap is the minimum change in the energy level of an electron, related to the discrete units of light energy discovered by Max Planck.

Another familiar expression is the "uncertainty principle," an idea formulated by Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s. Again, popular usage can be misleading, since one often hears the term used to mean the unavoidable disturbance caused by making an observation. But in quantum mechanics the concept refers to an elementary feature of the microworld—that certain properties have no well-defined values at all.

Little wonder that quantum mechanics is one of the few fields in which philosophical speculation goes hand in hand with scientific breakthroughs. Consider these quantum puzzles that have striking philosophical implications:

  • Schrödinger's cat: Erwin Schrödinger noted that the standard Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics makes it possible for a cat to be considered simultaneously dead and alive when exposed to a potentially lethal quantum situation.
  • Bell's theorem: John Bell showed that we must either give up the idea that particles have definite properties before they are measured, or we must imagine that all the particles in the universe are connected by a web of instantaneous communication links.
  • Many-worlds interpretation: In a scenario adopted by many science fiction authors, Hugh Everett III argued that every possible outcome of every quantum event takes place in a limitless branching series of parallel universes—of which we see only one.

Clear, Enlightening, and Thorough

Quantum Mechanics begins by exploring the origin of quantum mechanics and its golden age of discoveries in the early 20th century before taking you deeply into the key concepts and methods of the discipline. Then Professor Schumacher rounds out the course with a discussion of selected topics, including the potentially revolutionary applications of quantum cryptography and quantum computing. Throughout, he adheres to the following very helpful ground rules, tailored to give those without any previous preparation in math and physics a clear, enlightening, and thorough introduction to quantum mechanics:

  • He presents the real theory of quantum mechanics, not a superficial popularization.
  • He simplifies the subject to highlight fundamental principles.
  • He uses thought experiments, or hypothetical examples, as a tool for probing quantum phenomena.
  • He teaches you rudimentary symbols and rules that allow you to calculate the outcome of various quantum experiments.

One thought experiment that Professor Schumacher returns to involves a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, a simple arrangement of mirrors and detectors that illustrates basic properties and paradoxes of quantum mechanics. By considering the different paths that a photon can take through the interferometer, you discover such key principles as constructive and destructive interference, Max Born's probabilistic explanation of quantum phenomena, and Niels Bohr's concept of complementarity that led to the Copenhagen interpretation—the view of quantum mechanics since the 1920s.

Lucid, witty, and intensely interesting, Dr. Schumacher's lectures are illustrated with scores of insightful graphics. You are also introduced to a celebrated visual aid used by physicists themselves: the Feynman diagram, made famous by Nobel Prize–winner Richard Feynman as a cartoon-like shorthand for keeping track of quantum particles as they ceaselessly interact, change their identities, and even move backward through time!

Be Part of a Great Tradition

Richard Feynman was a graduate student of the eminent theoretical physicist John A. Wheeler—and so was Professor Schumacher, who earned the last Ph.D. that Dr. Wheeler supervised. Wheeler, in turn, was mentored by Niels Bohr, who studied with Ernest Rutherford, one of the pioneers of nuclear physics at the turn of the 20th century. Therefore, as you watch Quantum Mechanics, you are part of an unbroken chain of thinkers who have transmitted ideas and added to them across the decades, pondering, probing, and making remarkable discovery after discovery to uncover the secrets of our physical world.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Quantum Enigma
    Quantum mechanics is the most successful physical theory ever devised, and you learn what distinguishes it from its predecessor, classical mechanics. Professor Schumacher explains his ground rules for the course, which is designed to teach you some of the deep ideas and methods of quantum mechanics. x
  • 2
    The View from 1900
    You investigate the age-old debate over whether the physical world is discrete or continuous. By the 19th century, physicists saw a clear demarcation: Matter is made of discrete atoms, while light is a continuous wave of electromagnetic energy. However, a few odd phenomena remained difficult to explain. x
  • 3
    Two Revolutionaries—Planck and Einstein
    At the beginning of the 20th century, Max Planck and Albert Einstein proposed revolutionary ideas to resolve puzzles about light and matter. You explore Planck's discovery that light energy can only be emitted or absorbed in discrete amounts called quanta, and Einstein's application of this concept to matter. x
  • 4
    Particles of Light, Waves of Matter
    Light propagates through space as a wave, but it exchanges its energy in the form of particles. You learn how Louis de Broglie showed that this weird wave-particle duality also applies to matter, and how Max Born inferred that this relationship makes quantum mechanics inherently probabilistic. x
  • 5
    Standing Waves and Stable Atoms
    You explore the mystery of why atoms are stable. Niels Bohr suggested that quantum theory explains atomic stability by allowing only certain distinct orbits for electrons. Erwin Schrödinger discovered a powerful equation that reproduces the energy levels of Bohr's model. x
  • 6
    One of the most famous and misunderstood concepts in quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. You trace Werner Heisenberg's route to this revolutionary view of subatomic particle interactions, which establishes a trade-off between how precisely a particle's position and momentum can be defined. x
  • 7
    Complementarity and the Great Debate
    You focus on the Einstein-Bohr debate, which pitted Einstein's belief that quantum events can, in principle, be known in every detail, against Bohr's philosophy of complementarity—the view that a measurement of one quantum variable precludes a different variable from ever being known. x
  • 8
    Paradoxes of Interference
    Beginning his presentation of quantum mechanics in simplified form, Professor Schumacher discusses the mysteries and paradoxes of the Mach-Zehnder interferometer. He concludes with a thought experiment showing that an interferometer can determine whether a bomb will blow up without necessarily setting it off. x
  • 9
    States, Amplitudes, and Probabilities
    The interferometer from the previous lecture serves as a test case for introducing the formal math of quantum theory. By learning a few symbols and rules, you can describe the states of quantum particles, show how these states change over time, and predict the results of measurements. x
  • 10
    Particles That Spin
    Many quantum particles move through space and also have an intrinsic spin. Analyzing spin gives you a simple laboratory for exploring the basic ideas of quantum mechanics, and it is one of your key tools for understanding the quantum world. x
  • 11
    Quantum Twins
    Macroscopic objects obey the snowflake principle. No two are exactly alike. Quantum particles do not obey this principle. For instance, every electron is perfectly identical to every other. You learn that quantum particles come in two basic types: bosons, which can occupy the same quantum state; and fermions, which cannot. x
  • 12
    The Gregarious Particles
    You discover that the tendency of bosons to congregate in the same quantum state can lead to amazing applications. In a laser, huge numbers of photons are created, moving in exactly the same direction with the same energy. In superconductivity, quantum effects allow electrons to flow forever without resistance. x
  • 13
    Antisymmetric and Antisocial
    Why is matter solid, even though atoms are mostly empty space? The answer is the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that no two identical fermions can ever be in the same quantum state. x
  • 14
    The Most Important Minus Sign in the World
    At the fundamental level, bosons and fermions differ in a single minus sign. One way of understanding the origin of this difference is with the Feynman ribbon trick, which Dr. Schumacher demonstrates. x
  • 15
    When two particles are part of the same quantum system, they may be entangled with each other. In their famous "EPR" paper, Einstein and his collaborators Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen used entanglement to argue that quantum mechanics is incomplete. You chart their reasoning and Bohr's response. x
  • 16
    Bell and Beyond
    Thirty years after EPR, physicist John Bell dropped an even bigger bombshell, showing that a deterministic theory of quantum mechanics such as EPR violates the principle of locality—that particles in close interaction can't be instantaneously affected by events happening in another part of the universe. x
  • 17
    All the Myriad Ways
    Feynman diagrams are a powerful tool for analyzing events in the quantum world. Some diagrams show particles moving forward and backward in time, while other particles appear from nowhere and disappear again. All are possible quantum scenarios, which you learn how to plot. x
  • 18
    Much Ado about Nothing
    The quantum vacuum is a complex, rapidly fluctuating medium, which can actually be observed as a tiny attraction between two metal plates. You also discover that vacuum energy may be the source of the dark energy that causes the universe to expand at an ever-accelerating rate. x
  • 19
    Quantum Cloning
    You explore quantum information and quantum computing—Dr. Schumacher's specialty, for which he pioneered the concept "qubit," the unit of quantum information. You learn that unlike classical information, such as a book or musical recording, quantum information can't be perfectly copied. x
  • 20
    Quantum Cryptography
    The uncopyability of quantum information raises the possibility of quantum cryptography—an absolutely secure method for transmitting a coded message. This lecture tells how to do it, noting that a handful of banks and government agencies already use quantum cryptography to ensure the security of their most secret data. x
  • 21
    Bits, Qubits, and Ebits
    What are the laws governing quantum information? Charles Bennett has proposed basic rules governing the relationships between different sorts of information. You investigate his four laws, including quantum teleportation, in which entanglement can be used to send quantum information instantaneously. x
  • 22
    Quantum Computers
    You explore the intriguing capabilities of quantum computers, which don't yet exist but are theoretically possible. Using the laws of quantum mechanics, such devices could factor huge numbers, allowing them to easily decipher unbreakable conventional codes. x
  • 23
    Many Worlds or One?
    What is the fundamental nature of the quantum world? This lecture looks at three possibilities: the Copenhagen, hidden-variable, and many-worlds interpretations. The first two reflect Bohr's and Einstein's views, respectively. The last posits a vast, multivalued universe encompassing every possibility in the quantum realm. x
  • 24
    The Great Smoky Dragon
    In this final lecture, you ponder John A. Wheeler's metaphor of the Great Smoky Dragon, a creature whose tail appears at the start of an experiment and whose head appears at the end. But what lies between is as uncertain as the mysterious and unknowable path of a quantum particle. x

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Your professor

Benjamin Schumacher

About Your Professor

Benjamin Schumacher, Ph.D.
Kenyon College
Dr. Benjamin Schumacher is Professor of Physics at Kenyon College, where he has taught for 20 years. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1990. Professor Schumacher is the author of numerous scientific papers and two books, including Physics in Spacetime: An Introduction to Special Relativity. As one of the founders of quantum information theory, he introduced the term qubit,...
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Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 100.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A tangled presentation Professor Benjamin Schumacher knows his stuff, but dwells too long on some things and omits others. I.e., talking about the Pauli exclusion principle for electrons, he tells us that in hydrogen the two electrons have opposite spin; then as he goes on to larger atoms, he doesn't explain how the Pauli EP works for the electrons in higher shells.... how are 6 electrons in different states? Then he says EP exists for protons and neutrons, but doesn't show us how that works for nuclei with odd number protons. Schumacher is often redundant and sometimes lingers on obvious points, like when he spent 5 minutes talking about trying to put his hand into the podium. Also, instead of jumping right into the technical language, I would have appreciated an explanation as to how scientists came to each idea... make it obvious why we need to talk about "base states", etc., explain what led Pauli to his ideas? This course, like most of "The Great Courses" offerings, didnt appear to be scrutinized well enough... overlooking the repeated phrases, pauses and "umms", and disconnected thoughts. I guess I was spoiled by Professor Stephen Ressler's superb course "Understanding the World's Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity".
Date published: 2012-12-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Somewhat disappointing I expected much more from that course: quantum mechanics really defines the strange world we are really living in. For one thing the title is inadequate at best, misleading at worst, at least on 2 accounts. First, QM is significant at a much lower scale than miscroscopic and is relevant at the atom level or such. Second, the title suggests that this new physics applies to the "microscopic" world and is irrelevant in our ordinary world; and nothing is further from the truth. QM applies to the sub-sub-sub microscopic world as well as the world of our galaxies. It is just that its effects are so small in the "ordinary" world that it is dicounted. My interest in this course was to get me closer to the real laws of physics and therefore to revise my notions of reality. As Richard Feynman said more than once, nobody can understand QM because its manifestations are far, very far, from our perceptions and living experiences. And yet this is really the way the world works. In spite of the lecturer's claim that it is indeed the case and that nature is very strange, he does not quite connect with bringing to the fore this idea through experiments, examples, etc. For example a wondeful demonstration of QM is given by Leonard Susskind in one of his video lectures (Stanford): in it he shows the two-slit experiment in which independant photons arriving on a screen at a very slow rate "know" where to land and where not to land (creating interference patterns), as if each photon had a memory of where the previous photons landed even though their arrivals may be separated by seconds or minutes. Similarly the phenomenon of entanglement would have deserved a better exposure because it seems to contradict the principle that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. The mathematical formalism of the course was not particularly interesting to me, except for the fact that a new branch of it had to be invented to describe the phenomena associated with QM. I agree with some of the reviewers that the 2 hours spent on quantum information theory, or at least a good portion of it, could have been spent in showing more of the effects, implications and strangeness of QM. That being said, the lecturer was as clear as possible, the course had good illustrations, and I like the teleprompter format because it cuts down on the hesitations, misspeaking, and the difficulty in keeping one's train of thought.
Date published: 2012-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Concise Introduction Professor Schumacher covers an amazing amount of material in a clear and concise way with helpful graphics and demonstrations to reinforcing learning. The course bibliography is a good place to start to supplement this introduction to QM. As I continue to delve into QM, I am realizing the wealth of material presented and the solid foundational introduction provided by this course. As must be the case in only 24 lectures to introduce such a complex topic, there are gaps and some topics would be greatly enhanced with more time for presentation, the reason for only 4 stars for content and value. I hope that TGC considers a QM 2 course to supplement and expand this introduction, or add more lectures to a revision.
Date published: 2012-08-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from History rather mechanics Have to admit neither quantum mechanics nor professor Schumacher impressed me. Professor dwelled too much on the story of QM rather than technical details, although admittedly this series is for amateur engineers. For instance of quantum entanglement, too much on the lengthy and technically meaningless arguments between Einstein and Bohr. I had to google myself and understand the typical experiment so-called Bell-state quantum eraser. Have to admire professor’s courage to philosophize the meaning of existence thru QM. That will surly shock the believers. QM is merely a tool, a mathematical approach that doesn’t even bother to explain the how let alone the why. QM gives only a probability and doesn’t care for the certainty of “to be” which is the case in reality – there is no such thing called Schrodinger’s cat in reality. On this aspect, I have to take Einstein’s side – this is a deterministic universe and we’re just too ignorant to comprehend. One of the biggest assumptions in QM is the uncertainty rule which I have no talent and interest to challenge. However, anybody can challenge the other assumption that all same quantum particles are equal – sounds rather like a politically and philosophically questionable statement from the constitution? I just don’t buy it. Can anyone tell two ants apart without help of a microscope? You get the point. Breaking this assumption can very probably be the key to eliminate the uncertainty of QM and therefore unified with the deterministic theory of relativity. I’m hopeful...
Date published: 2012-05-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Interesting Subject The material presented in this course was interesting -- as well as mind-boggling. The course description indicates that quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. Other physicists indicate that if one thinks they understand quantum mechanics, then they don't understand it. After viewing the course, I would have to say that I agree. Prof. Schumacher was organized. He presented his material clearly. He provided a nice bibliography. I did find that he spent a lot of time(approximately 4 lectures) on his own areas of interest -- which I felt was excessive. My favorite parts were the experiments presented in the initial parts of the course. These allowed me to see that this area of science is very counter-intuitive and, seemingly, magical. I would recommend this course to those who wish to know a bit about the riddle of quantum mechanics. Thank you to TTC for this Great Course.
Date published: 2012-04-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good initial survey If you are like me, and have never had a course on quantum mechanics, then this course is just about right. If you watch 'Big Bang Theory', look at the apartment's white board. Occasionally, you will see the quantum math notation introduced in this course.
Date published: 2012-04-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Flawed but worthwhile Quantum mechanics is often said to be both amazing and hard-to-grasp and Dr. Shumacher's course substantiates this by following discussions and the historical progress of the field itself. The most prominent feature of the course is that it does a brilliant job of explaining the evolution of this radically new conceptual framework of physics. This is especially interesting in the case of the correspondence between two of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, namely Bohr and Einstein. Dr. Shumacher takes pains to get the most mind-boggling ideas across to the viewer, and I have to say I think he succeeds, at least on the conceptual level. I have some major complaints though. First, Dr. Shumacher attempts to incorporate some math, and I found that unsatisfying. It's not so much that the math was hard for me (I am a computer science major, I deal with math everyday), but that it remains unexplained. Now it might be reasonably argued that delving deeper into the math requires a college course on the topic, and I appreciate that, but, in that case, one has to wonder: why should there be any math at all? As it is, I think the mathematics hindered the flow of the discussion, rather than helping it. Thus, I do not think leaving it out would have been a loss. Same goes for much of the rather special-purpose ideas and technologies discussed in the last few lectures on quantum computing and information processing. I think it would have been a judicious choice to allot this time to elucidating the classical physics behind many of the experiments. As it is, you either have to take many propositions for granted, or work them out on your own. I watched this course with a couple of friends and we were able to figure out the classical physics (which was at times hairy), but it's not easy to do this on your own. The presentation was lucid and lively - by no means boring. I found Dr. Shumacher very likeable. In short, although the quality of this course is not as high as the greatest offerings of TTC in the physics department (i.e. Understanding the Universe, Particle Physics, etc.), given the elusive nature of the topic, I think they did a good job.
Date published: 2012-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional By including a bit more mathematics, this course offers a lot more than other quantum mechanics courses, books and videos, yet is still extremely easy to understand. Professor Schumacher's enthusiasm is catching and makes one want to read up even more on the subject.
Date published: 2012-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Needed more visual reinforcement When the material was illustrated by technology aids there was some clarity, and for a course of this type of content, that was nowhere near often enough. Most of the time he resorted to a straight lecturing format and it was often intolerably tedious to the extent that the point or points of a given lecture was never elucidated. Like another reviewer I was also mystified why he used a white background to demonstrate the double slit experiment, the wave-particle pattern against the backdrop was not visible to the viewer, thus useless. It did not seem as if much preparation went into the course and it should be re-done with more visual reinforcement. I admit this was puzzling with this teacher, as I have another course of his that is quite good. For an introduction to Quantum Mechanics, I recommend finding another source, this was not even a good course, let alone a great one.
Date published: 2012-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not as good as it could have been QM is a fascinating topic and I found myself really looking forward to the next lecture as the Prof. moved forward. Until we hit lecture 19. While telling us that there is much more to QM than he can present here (quantum tunneling perhaps?), he then launches into his own pet projects in QM - cryptography. He wastes four lectures (19-22) on this most boring subject. I can understand his temptation to delve into his own interests, but 1/6 of the course? What a waste! His last two lectures on the philosophical approaches to QM were interesting but there was so much he could have done with those four wasted lectures. BTW if you're exercising while watching, like I was, he doesn't stick to a strict 30 min. limit per lecture.
Date published: 2012-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear presentation Prof Schumacher does a great job presenting a complex subject. I enjoyed his style and pace.
Date published: 2012-02-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed I would like to quote another reviewer because I agree completely: "Prof. Schumacher over-explains many sections in great detail, yet glosses over other (more difficult) topics as a passing thought." It was so monotonous sitting through long detailed explanations of simple concepts like how a string vibrates and then frustrating when he skips right past essential parts. I found this course very frustrating and not at all on par with other courses from Great Courses. Schumacher simply does not do it for me and I hope someday to find this material presented by someone else.
Date published: 2012-02-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Over-explained, tele-prompted, not insightful By far, this course is the weakest of the 6 I have bought from TGC. By mistake, I bought 2 copies, and I'm returning both, and here's why: Prof. Schumacher over-explains many sections in great detail, yet glosses over other (more difficult) topics as a passing thought. Quantum mechanics is somewhat new to me; I have read "The Tao of Physics," "The Wu Li Masters," and other introductory books on the subject. I found this course to unsatisfactorily skim the real essentials that I learned about earlier, and dedicate FAR too much time to Prof. Schumacher's research area, quantum information technology. After almost watching almost all of the lectures (I could not stand to watch any more of the tele-prompted scripts!), I gave up. If you want a good course, order the early/high/late mediaeval series with Prof. Daileader or nutrition with Roberta Anding. Those courses are true quality and life changing.
Date published: 2012-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best! I haven't taken physics since college yet Dr. Schumacher presents this fascinating material in a cohesive, simplified yet challenging way. He is an exceptional lecturer, the material has been carefully prepared and builds upon itself and he makes something so "abstract" as a world we can not see, something we can understand (with a couple of leaps of faith!). I would have liked a longer course in which he could have explained HOW we know certain things (such as entaglement), not just that it exists. Yet that would be beyond the scope of this course. For anyone interesting in a new, exciting, yet challenging and changing view of reality, this course is a "must".
Date published: 2012-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from :) There are two ways to review this, one on the lecturer and one on the subject. As far as the subject goes, there is nothing as fundamental and as simultaneously strange as QM. The material made my brain do somersaults. It made me lay awake at nights. It made me bore people at work to death. As a lecturer, this guy is amazing. Inconceivable (in a Princess Bride sense). I haven't experienced any bad lecturers in The Great Courses, but at this point, Schumacher is the best. After watching these lectures, I'm at once reminded how I let my life go to waste by not studying physics, and, comfortingly, that in some multiverse somewhere, I actually did.
Date published: 2011-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great intro to the subject This is a great introduction to quantum mechanics (and by extension, modern science). For me, it turned out to be a perfect first step in learning about this subject, and I'd recommend it as a pre-requisite to get more out of the other science courses (e.g. cosmology, superstring theory, dark matter/dark energy, etc.). BTW, after finishing Professor Schumacher's course, I followed an Amazon reviewer's suggestion and read Richard Feynman's "Q.E.D.: The Strange Theory of Light & Matter" (twice), then Daniel Styer's "The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics," and then Sam Treiman's "The Odd Quantum" (the most detailed & challenging of the 3). I'd recommend that as a very good follow-up to this course for those who are as fascinated by this subject as I am.
Date published: 2011-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Now I know much things about Quantum Mecahnics Actually, Quantum mechanics was very difficult for me to understand, because I am a mechanical engineer so I am familiar with Newtonian mechanics not quantum mechanics. I have wanted to have a class in quantum mecanics. And this DVD was very helpful to me. I can understand most of important concept in Q.M.
Date published: 2011-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Intro to Quantum Mechanics I've read a lot of books on Quantum Mechanics but this was my first opportunity to learn about it in a lecture format and it tremendously improved my understanding of the subject matter. I'm a mechanical engineer so no stranger to technical lectures. I found Dr. Schumacher's lecture style to be well above average, and more engaging and dynamic as the series progressed. I definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in developing a general understanding of Quantum Mechanics
Date published: 2011-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better This is the second course I have seen from Dr. Schumacher. It is superior to his IMPOSSIBLE PHYSICS course: which borrows very heavily from the popular book by Dr. Kaku. He is more relaxed, and smoother with his lectures. This is a general overview course. Still I was glad I had read several lay books on the subject over the last year. I was surprised that quantum tunneling was not addressed, but I know you can't include everything in such a broad topic. I would recommend this for people with definite interest in the topic.
Date published: 2011-06-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Review:QM:The Physics of the Microscopic world I am a professor of physics at the University of Puerto Rico with 41 years of experience. For the last 10 years, I have taught a course called 'Modern Physics for Non-Majors' which is based on the book by Giancoli. Chapters 37-43 cover the subject. My course requires University Physics, which covers mechanics and E&M, as a pre-requsite. I use the excellent Annenberg Series of Physics films produced at Cal Tech around 1987 and I was hoping to find some new visual material. I am astounded at the lack of substance in your product. I watched the first five lectures absolutely bored and equally amazed at the lack of animation or actual experimental demonstrations. The demonstration of interference and diffraction showed a white screen with an image I could not make out. Professor Schumacher appears best when I run the video at 4X normal speed. I found nothing of use in this product for my course, but I did find some misleading information.
Date published: 2011-06-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Poor presentation I have tried to get through this DVD several times now and just find the instructor too boring. This is the only Teaching Company course I have ever thought seriously about returning. I wish TC offered a related course with overlap (like they do on other subjects) so I could really dive into the material without the presentation road block.
Date published: 2011-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quantum Enlightment Quantum physics made fully comprehensible for the first time.
Date published: 2011-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Qubit cryptanalysis Quantum Mechanics is a wonderful enigma. This course was presented with style and energy. Professor Schumacher is well articulated and clear on his words and presentation. He truly distributes the key for cryptanalysis of the ciphertext of quantum mechanics encryption. I give him a full-silvered mirror award. I finished this course well above my entry zero point energy level with my inital basis state now updated to a superpostional one with regards to my knowledge and understanding of this complex topic. Note that some science background is needed to appreciate this course. I believe at some level, I share entaglement with all others who have completed and enjoyed this course. This is another excellent science series from the Teaching Company which expands the mind well beyond what one would initially had expected.
Date published: 2010-12-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor content The content of this course was poor. The instructor thought a lot less than he could teach in this amount. I know the subject is quite unintuitive and hard to grasp for new learners. However, instructor could give similar examples on the subject instead of going really slow on the same example. Also I found the overal course lacked completeness. I more or less understood every course that the instructor taught. However in the end I couldn't got the big picture.
Date published: 2010-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whew! This course left my head spinning. For my level of scientific background, (Col. Bio and chem - no Physics), this is about my limit on difficulty. Most of the concepts were unfamiliar and getting harder to keep track of, though explained well. Professor Schumacher's enthusiasm and excitement about his subject were catching. He is extremely knowledgeable and, while keeping on track with notes or an outline, he was obviously NOT reading the material. His on-screen experiment set-ups and explanations were very clear. The "Great Smoky Dragon" of Quantum Mechanics, which disappears when it is observed, makes measurements impossible, creating a strange magical world that can only be dealt with through mathematical probabilities. Nothing is concrete, and these concepts, which I accept, still create a feeling of "imaginary" science in my mind. It is "Spooky" as Einstein said, and feels like the link between 3D or 4D "reality" and worlds we only dream of. Scarey, magical, on-the-verge of something wonderful, don't worry about understanding it all, toward the end just listen and wonder.
Date published: 2010-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview Professor Schumacher has a good lecture style, he kept me interested through the whole series. He used a lot of visual representations of quantum circumstances, which i found helpful. He also covers a lot of ground at a good pace. He also briefly revises material from previous lectures which was helpful. My expectations of the course were to get an overview of Quantum Mechanics not necessarily to understand all the details. In this regard, Prof Schumacher exceeded my expectations. There were a few things I did not understand, but I never expected to underatand everything. A couple of things could be improved: The notion of the direction of spin of electrons needed to be revised and explained a lot more, as it was the basis of many subsequent lectures. I was not sure whether the X,Y and Z axis represened the AXIS of spin or DIRECTION of spin; this gap of knowlede was an obstacle to further learning. Futher to this, the Prof mentions in regard to Quantum information, that quantum systems can not be copied like digital information can be copied. One of his major arguments was that this is because Quantum states and spins can not be measured. But we just spent awhile talking about measuring amplitudes of spin and compositions of spins - so I did not get howcome now these things can not be measured. Maybe, TEACH12 could organise a blog for questions like these ot be posted? Overall, a great series of lectures.
Date published: 2010-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettable! This was my first purchase from teach12. I now am addicted to these courses. This professor is unbelievable in the way he presents the material - there's no flash or glamour, just pure substance in a digestible format. Professor Schumaker presents complicated concepts in simple ways and gives you very applicable examples that create a clear picture in your head. I have found no other teacher that is as successful at this than Professor Schumaker. I took this course because I was petrified of taking my first physics class in college. I thought physics was just another tedious and unattainable math class that I would struggle to pass, if I did at all. The professor made the concepts and ideas of physics so elementary and easy to understand, it is now one of my favorite subjects to dive into. I often found myself saying throughout the course, "Oh! That's how it's works!," or, "Oh, now I understand!" and "just one more lecture...just one more lecture and then I'll go to bed", etc. I was able to easily understand very complicated subject matter in my biology courses because of this dvd! I viewed this course two times so far, and intend on viewing it many more. It is one of the dvd's that is always in the computer waiting to be played at my house.
Date published: 2010-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing View of Microscopic Physics Professor Benjamin Schumacher has created a special course that seeks to gain an understanding of a world far from our daily lives. Quantum Mechanics is such a world where the classical laws of physics do not apply and new ideas and concepts are needed in order to gain insights into this foreign land. Dr Schumacher is the perfect teacher for this course. Not only is he a brilliant physicist but possess the wherewithal to introduce the Quantum concepts to a wide audience. He begins by outlining the discovery of the field and its growth into a major tenet of modern physics--all within the past 80 years and then highlighting some of its modern uses. His particular field of expertise is Quantum Information and he introduces us to the qubit and ebit which are new carriers of information and on to an introduction to Quantum Computing. He concludes by pondering the philosophical questions of how the field relates to the world at large---a current field of research. All in all a fantastic course which was well researched and extremely well presented. Bravo!
Date published: 2010-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Non Mathmatical Quantum Mechanics I really enjoyed this very simple introduction to quantum Mechanics. I enjoyed it so much that I have bought several of the recomended books and am carefully adding Mathmatics back into my life. this course is really two courses. The first 18 lectures are a very elementary introduction to Quantum Mechanics. The last 6 lectures are on the professors pet subject quantum information theory and give a practical application of the quantum theory presented. Please don't take my description of the course as elementary as a negative review. Personally it has been more than 30 years since I last took a math or Physics course and I needed elementary. The course did what I wanted it to do, it gave me a very basic understanding of the quantum world and it inspired me to go back and review that world in more depth with less basic mathmatics. The course has left me wanting more and I would love it if The Teaching company created a follow up lecture series on Quantum Mechanics with more indepth exploration of the math and theories involved. This wouldn't be a replacement for this course but a followup for those of us who have been inspired by the course. The last part of the course was on quantum Information theory and yes its the Professors pet topic. That is the very reason why it was an excellent way to end the introductory course. This allowed us to see a little bit into what inspires the instructor and it gave a very practical base to what at first seems to be an esoteric and magical subject.
Date published: 2010-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Needs More Mathematics-Sorry!!!! This was a hard series to rate, in that, while holding my interest, I fell asleep at the end of about all 24 of the lectures. Schumacher was not boring, so I couldn't fault him. He also generated enough interest on my part to pull out some light reading books by Richard Feynman on Physics, and enquire about more substantial quantum mechanics textbooks. He brought back memories of Physical Chemistry class, which I took for one year in college 35 years ago, in which we used the essentials of quantum mechanics quite heavily for our calculations, but of which much of the third term was spent doing simple solutions of the Schrödinger equation for the hydrogen atom. It seemed a little strange trying to teach quantum mechanics without mathematics. So, it ended up being more a "Quantum Mechanics for Psychology Majors" class, something which nobody could really take seriously. Dr. Schumacher covered the history of quantum mechanics, some of the basic ideas, and discussion of how quantum mechanics differs from how we see and experience the macroscopic world. I found the discussion of his work in quantum informatics to be most interesting. Should he edit this course for a new edition, I would like to see him a) include more mathematics, even if it is not totally understood, b) speak more about the history of quantum mechanics, especially in the most recent several decades, and c) include more discussion of sub-atomic work, such as quarks, muons, etc. and discuss how they tie into the quantum mechanics discussion, and d) discuss more fully how relativity and quantum mechanics conflicts and interacts in understanding the universe.
Date published: 2010-08-01
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