Understanding the Quantum World

Course No. 9750
Professor Erica W. Carlson, PhD
Purdue University
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Course No. 9750
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Reveal what distinguishes quantum physics from classical physics.
  • numbers Discover experiments that demonstrate quantum phenomena.
  • numbers Examine quantum paradoxes and their proposed resolutions.
  • numbers Take a closer look at the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics.

Course Overview

Quantum mechanics has a reputation for being so complex that the word “quantum” has become a popular label for anything mystical or unfathomable. In fact, quantum mechanics is one of the most successful theories of reality yet discovered, explaining everything from the stability of atoms to the glow of neon lights, from the flow of electricity in metals to the workings of the human eye.

At the same time, quantum mechanics does have a mysterious side, symbolized by the famous thought experiment concerning the fate of Schrödinger’s cat, a hypothetical feline who is both dead and alive in a quantum experiment proposed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger.

In Understanding the Quantum World, Professor Erica W. Carlson of Purdue University guides you through this fascinating subject, explaining the principles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics with exceptional rigor and clarity—and using minimal mathematics. The winner of multiple teaching awards, Professor Carlson is renowned for her “fantastic ability to develop and implement tools that help students learn a challenging subject”—in the words of one of her admiring colleagues. With her guidance, anyone can get a fundamental understanding of this wide-ranging field.

In these 24 half-hour lectures, you discover:

  • What distinguishes quantum physics from classical physics,
  • The major breakthroughs in the field and who made them,
  • How to see quantum “weirdness” as a normal aspect of matter,
  • Experiments that demonstrate quantum phenomena,
  • Quantum theory’s many applications and physical insights,
  • The probable fate of Schrödinger’s cat, and much more.

How to Learn Quantum Physics

Custom animations and graphics, analogies, demonstrations—whatever works to convey a concept, Professor Carlson uses it. You will begin Understanding the Quantum World by covering the central paradox of the field: the wave-particle duality of matter. One of the key ideas here is that waves can come in countable “quantum” units. Dr. Carlson demonstrates this with a slinky being oscillated back and forth, which generates standing waves that can be likened to quantum waves of electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom.

Professor Carlson has a special affinity for analogies, and she uses them frequently, noting that while scientists prefer the precision of mathematics, for non-scientists an apt analogy is often the best route to an “aha” moment of insight. For example:

  • The Copenhagen coin: A spinning coin is neither heads nor tails until an observation is made. Similarly, the Copenhagen interpretation considers a quantum particle to lack definitive properties until it is measured. Before that, it’s a matter of probabilities, just as a spinning coin can be considered 50 percent heads and 50 percent tails.
  • Quantum gear shifter: Energy levels in an atom are quantized like the gear shifter in a car, which can go from first to second to third gear, but not to second-and-a-half. For gears, the limitation is the individual teeth in a gear wheel, while atoms are limited by the possible standing wave patterns in different atomic energy states.
  • The roller coaster that could: The uncanny ability of quantum particles to pass through potential energy barriers is like a roller coaster that doesn’t have enough speed to surmount a high hill but nonetheless appears on the other side. If a coaster had a long tail to its wavefunction, then it could!
  • Surfing electrons: Next time you turn on a light, think of the electrons in the wire as surfing on quantum waves, from the outer shell of one metal atom to the next, to carry current to the light bulb. Imperfections in the metal’s atomic lattice and other factors cause occasional “wipeouts,” giving rise to electrical resistance.

One of the hardest things to picture in the quantum world is the three-dimensional shape of atomic orbitals. These shapes reveal how electrons are bound to atoms and the probability of finding electrons in specific regions. Here, Dr. Carlson draws on the visualization software that physicists themselves use, which turns atoms into multicolored animations where the probability distribution is a gauzy cloud and shifting colors signify properties such as phase. These visualizations give an eerie look into a domain trillions of times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. And for anyone studying physics or chemistry, Professor Carlson provides a handy mnemonic for remembering the nomenclature of the different atomic orbitals.

An Astonishing Range of Applications

Quantum physics is more than just a fun intellectual exercise. It is the key to countless technologies, and also helps to explain how the natural world works, including living systems. Professor Carlson discusses many such examples, among them:

  • Color vision: What we perceive as color has its origin in quantum events in the outside world, which produce photons of visible light. Color-sensitive cones in our eyes detect some of these photons. Depending on their wavelength, the photons trigger quantum reactions that our brains interpret as different colors.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS satellites are essentially atomic clocks in orbit, sending out very accurate time signals based on tiny transitions in energy states of cesium atoms. The time for the signal to reach Earth gives the distance to the satellite. Signals from four GPS satellites suffice to fix a position exactly.
  • Flash memory: Smart phones, solid-state hard drives, memory sticks, and other electronic devices use flash memory to store data with no need for external power to preserve information. When it’s time to erase the information, quantum tunneling allows electrons that encode the data to be quickly discharged.
  • Superconductivity: Dr. Carlson covers the crucial difference between the two classes of subatomic particles—fermions and bosons. Then, in a later lecture, she shows that, under special conditions, fermions can be induced to behave like bosons, leading to a frictionless state of zero electrical resistance known as superconductivity.

These and other successes in understanding and manipulating nature make the mysteries and paradoxes of quantum theory seem almost like a scientific detour into a strange new world. This is what Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman had in mind when he urged, “I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself …‘but how can it be like that?’ because you will go … into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”

On the other hand, even as scientists invent new uses for this astonishingly powerful tool, they can’t help but speculate on how it can be like that—as you do as well in this remarkable course.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Particle-Wave Duality
    Begin your journey into the quantum world by focusing on one of its most baffling features: the behavior of quantum entities as both particles and waves. Following her approach of presenting analogies over equations, Professor Carlson gives a handy way of visualizing this paradox. Then she takes you further into quantum weirdness by using a slinky to show how waves can be quantized. x
  • 2
    Particles, Waves, and Interference Patterns
    Investigate one of the most famous demonstrations in physics: the double-slit experiment. See how electrons behave as both particles and waves when passing through two parallel slits in a plate and then striking a screen. Bizarrely, the wave properties disappear when the electrons are monitored as they pass through each slit, showing our inability to have complete information of a quantum state. x
  • 3
    Observers Disturb What They Measure
    Consider what life would be like if quantum effects held at our everyday scale. For instance, there would be no trouble sitting in three chairs at once! Learn what happens when a particle in such a mixed state is forced by measurement to assume a definite position—a situation known as wave function collapse. This leads to the important quantum principle that observers disturb what they measure. x
  • 4
    Bell’s Theorem and Schrödinger’s Cat
    Ponder two celebrated and thought-provoking responses to the apparent incompatibility of quantum mechanics and classical physics. Bell’s theorem shows that attempts to reconcile the two systems are futile in a certain class of theories. Next, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment implying that a cat could be both dead and alive if the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics holds. x
  • 5
    Quantum Paradoxes and Interpretations
    Review the major theories proposed by physicists trying to make sense of the paradoxes of the quantum world. Look at the Copenhagen interpretation, Einstein’s realist view, the many worlds interpretation, quantum Bayesianism, non-local hidden variables, and other creative attempts to explain what is going on in a realm that seems to be governed by probability alone. x
  • 6
    The Position-Momentum Uncertainty Relation
    Heisenberg's uncertainty principle sets a fundamental limit on how much we can know about an object's position and momentum at the same time. Professor Carlson introduces this simple equation, showing how it explains why atoms have structure and come in the diverse forms of the periodic table of elements. Surprisingly, the stability of our everyday world rests on uncertainty at the quantum level. x
  • 7
    Wave Quantization
    Electrons don't just orbit the nucleus—they simultaneously exist as standing waves. Go deeper into what standing wave modes look like in one, two, and three dimensions, discovering that these shapes explain the quantization of energy states in an atom. As usual, Professor Carlson introduces useful analogies, including the standing waves produced in a vibrating drum head. x
  • 8
    Quantum Wave Shapes and the Periodic Table
    Focus on standing waves of electrons around nuclei, seeing how the periodic table of elements results from what electrons do naturally: fall into the lowest energy state given the total electric charge, existing electron population, and other features of an atom. Learn the Pauli exclusion principle and a handy mnemonic for remembering the terminology for atomic orbitals, such as 1s, 2p, 3d, etc. x
  • 9
    Interference of Waves and Sloshing States
    Watch what happens when electrons are put into wave forms that differ from standing waves. Your goal is to understand why some of these superposition states are unstable. Professor Carlson notes that the sloshing of an electron back and forth in an unstable state causes it to act like an antenna, radiating away energy until it falls to a lower energy level. x
  • 10
    Wave Shapes in Diamond and Graphene
    What accounts for the dramatic difference between diamond and graphene (a sheet of graphite one atom thick), both of which are composed of pure carbon? Study the role of electrons in molecular bonds, applying your knowledge of electron standing waves. In carbon, such waves make possible several types of bonds, which in diamond and graphene result in remarkably different physical properties. x
  • 11
    Harmonic Oscillators
    A clock pendulum is an example of a classical harmonic oscillator. Extend this concept to the atomic realm to see how quantum waves behave like harmonic oscillators. Then learn how quantum physics was born at the turn of the 20th century in Max Planck’s solution to a paradox in the classical picture of oscillating atoms. His conclusion was that the energies of oscillation had to be quantized. x
  • 12
    The Energy-Time Uncertainty Relation
    Return to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle from Lecture 6 to see how quantum uncertainty also extends to energy and time. This has a startling implication for energy conservation, suggesting that short-lived “virtual” particles can pop into existence out of nothing—as long as they don’t stay around for long. Consider evidence for this phenomenon in the Lamb shift and Casimir effect. x
  • 13
    Quantum Angular Momentum and Electron Spin
    Continue your investigation of the counterintuitive quantum world by contrasting angular momentum for planets and other classical objects with analogous phenomena in quantum particles. Cover the celebrated Stern–Gerlach experiment, which in the 1920s showed that spin is quantized for atoms and can only take on a very limited number of discrete values. x
  • 14
    Quantum Orbital Angular Momentum
    Having covered electron spin in the previous lecture, now turn to orbital angular momentum. Again, a phenomenon familiar in classical physics relating to planets has an analogue in the quantum domain—although with profound differences. This leads to a discussion of permanent magnets, which Professor Carlson calls “a piece of quantum physics that you can hold in your hand.” x
  • 15
    Quantum Properties of Light
    Among Einstein’s insights was that light comes in discrete packets of energy called photons. Explore the photoelectric effect, which prompted Einstein’s discovery. See a do-it-yourself project that demonstrates the photoelectric effect. Close by surveying applications of the quantum theory of light to phenomena such as lasers, fluorescent dyes, photosynthesis, and vitamin D production in skin. x
  • 16
    Atomic Transitions and Photons
    Dive deeper into the interactions of light with matter. Starting with a hydrogen atom, examine the changes in energy and angular momentum when an electron transitions from one orbital to another. See how the diverse possibilities create a “fingerprint” specific to every type of atom, and how this is the basis for spectroscopy, which can determine the composition of stars by analyzing their light. x
  • 17
    Atomic Clocks and GPS
    Peer into the structure of a cesium atom to see what makes it ideal for measuring the length of a second and serving as the basis for atomic clocks. Then head into space to learn how GPS satellites use atomic clocks to triangulate positions on the ground. Finally, delve into Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity to understand the corrections that GPS must make to stay accurate. x
  • 18
    Quantum Mechanics and Color Vision
    Probe the quantum events that underlie color vision, discovering the role of the retinal molecule in detecting different frequencies of photons as they strike cone cells in the eye’s retina. Also investigate the source of color blindness, most common in men, as well as its inverse, tetrachromacy, which is the ability to see an extra channel of color information, possessed by some women. x
  • 19
    A Quantum Explanation of Color
    Now turn to the sources of color in the world around us, from the yellow glow of sodium street lights to the brilliant red of a ruby pendant. Grasp the secret of the aurora, the difference between fluorescence and phosphorescence, and the reason neon dyes look brighter than their surroundings. It turns out that our entire experience of color is governed by the quantum world. x
  • 20
    Quantum Tunneling
    Anyone who makes use of a memory stick, a solid-state hard drive, or a smartphone relies on one of the most baffling aspects of the quantum world: quantum tunneling. Professor Carlson uses a roller coaster analogy, combined with your newly acquired insight into wave mechanics, to make this feat of quantum sorcery—the equivalent of walking through walls—perfectly logical. x
  • 21
    Fermions and Bosons
    Investigate why two pieces of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time, reaching the conclusion that this is only true for fermions, which are particles with half-integer spin. The other class of particles, bosons, with integer spin, can be in the same place at the same time. Learn how this feature of bosons has been exploited in lasers and in superfluids such as liquid helium. x
  • 22
    Spin Singlets and the EPR Paradox
    Study the most celebrated challenge to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics: the paradox proposed by Albert Einstein and his collaborators Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen—later updated by David Bohm. Is quantum mechanics an incomplete theory due to hidden variables that guide the outcome of quantum interactions? Examine this idea and the experiments designed to test it. x
  • 23
    Quantum Mechanics and Metals
    Analyze how metals conduct electricity, discovering that, in a sense, electrons “surf” from one metal atom to the next on a quantum mechanical wave. Probe the causes of electrical resistance and why metals can never be perfect conductors. Finally, use the Pauli exclusion principle to understand the optimum distribution of electrons in the different quantum states of metal atoms. x
  • 24
    Close with one of Professor Carlson’s favorite topics: superconductivity. As noted in Lecture 23, when electrons flow through a metal, they lose energy to resistance. But this is not true of superconductors, whose amazing properties trace to the difference between bosons and fermions. Learn how quantum stability allows superconductors to conduct electricity with zero resistance, then step back and summarize the high points of your quantum tour. x

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Your professor

Erica W. Carlson

About Your Professor

Erica W. Carlson, PhD
Purdue University
Erica W. Carlson is a 150th Anniversary Professor and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University. She holds a BS in Physics from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A theoretical physicist, she researches electronic phase transitions in quantum materials. Widely recognized for her teaching and research, Professor Carlson received...
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Understanding the Quantum World is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 99.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wondefrul professor and great spleaking style Just bought Quantum World and really enjoying it; Prof Carlson is excellent. Streaming is perfect and HD video is excellent; sound is superb. I would STRONGLY recommend changing the "green screeN" background occasionally as it gets kind of old! The guide (not the word for word transcript) is excellent.
Date published: 2019-09-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great for lecture-style learning. Only on video 2, but I've noticed that it's following what seems to be a standard with The Great Courses - largely just video of one person talking. Animations are improved over past years, but it would be nice if the videos were more interactive. But great information, and very thorough!
Date published: 2019-09-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Understanding the Quantum World I was unable to get used to the style of speaking of the speaker and therefore discontinued after the first lesson
Date published: 2019-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive, yet understandable I have been enjoying the understanding the Quantum World course and am very impressed with its presentation, content, and coverage of the subject. I am using this as a refresher course since my last quantum mechanics (QM) course was almost 45 years ago. The course touches upon many of the aspects of QM and some of the newer "finds" since I first took the course way back when. I appreciate the non-mathematical approach since the math (though necessary in the long run) just gets in the way initially to understand the concepts presented. In my opinion professor Carlson does an exquisite job to present the topics covered leading to not only a grasp of the subject but a yearning to learn more. Yes! I look forward to a Quantum Mechanics II course with Erica Carlson though The Great Courses.
Date published: 2019-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Illustrates using familiar, everyday examples. Erica Carlson explains the strangeness of the quantum world by showing how hidden quantum effects give rise to the phenomena we observe in everyday life. She uses familiar analogies and avoids complex mathematics. Her examples and explanations are surprisingly clear, concise, and well organized. The many visual aids are important, so I recommend this course in video format.
Date published: 2019-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course for a complex subject Quantum Physics is tricky because it is a very different view of the classical atomic world. I used to work in a research laboratory and was always amazed as to why the chemists would settle for such lousy mathematical results. They were, of course, relying on classic chemistry based on classic physics. That combination does not work. What I most enjoyed about this course is that near the end of the course Dr. Carlson got into applications of quantum physics such as: Why do we have color vision and how does chlorophyll work? I will watch this course again to glean more information. This course does require effort, but it was fun.
Date published: 2019-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course. Should not be missed! Prof. Carlson demonstrates a rare talent for clear expression as well as an obvious enthusiasm for her subject. She employs analogies and graphics in a very creative way, so as to bring insight and much greater understanding to a topic (the quantum world) that by its nature has many weird aspects that are hard to fathom based on everyday experience. I took a number of physics courses in college and have always found the subject interesting and challenging. This course is one of the best I have ever had. Extremely enlightening and informative.
Date published: 2019-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strong on Quantum Atomics I've been attempting as a non physicist to better understand the insights of quantum mechanics. I came to this course having already listened to Professor Schumacher's course "Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World", which was fairly comprehensive, and for my level fairly rigorous. I thought this course might seem too simple by comparison, but it was not. Professor Carlson of course has her own style. Her lectures tend to start out very simple, with easy to grasp, regular-world examples, from which she dives into an explanation of some quantum mechanical issue which rapidly becomes far more difficult. As a layman some of her lectures definitely could benefit from listening twice, to grasp all the material. The biggest difference between this course and Schumacher's is Dr. Carlson's particular emphasis on the quantum behavior of atoms. This included many lectures on aspects of quantum mechanics that Schumacher's course barely covered, or didn't cover at all. For example, this is the first time I've heard a more or less "proper" explanation of why electrons have the various orbital shells that they do and how the maximum number held in each shell can be understood. You can just learn the numbers in a chemistry class, but it takes a quantum mechanical explanation to understand why they work this way. All 24 lectures tend to revolve around the quantum mechanics of atoms. So, this course really does not duplicate Schumacher's and anyone trying to pick up some understanding of QM from The Great Courses would do well listening to both of them. Both are valuable.
Date published: 2019-08-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The video and the book which came with it made this very difficult subject somewhat clearer. The presenter certainly knew her business. Probably the difficulty of the subject, together with the presentation being handicapped by the absence of very much mathematics, along with the knowledge that many scientists are also "in the dark" about this subject made the course less than wonderful, which some of your other courses on physics, multivariable calculus and biology have definitely been. But then, I have a bachelor's degree from UCLA in mathematics together with a graduate degree in operations research from another school and these make me appreciate presentations on technical subjects which are not shy about using mathematics.
Date published: 2019-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course about quantum physics Easy to understand for a non mathematically gifted. I am doing two lessons a day and letting the knowledge seep in.
Date published: 2019-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quantum World Came across a book on this subject and decided to give a conference in English (No math Formulae involved) to a group of Retired Men in my town. This course of yours, originally bought as a visual complement to the book in fact made me read and understand the book much better and o concentrate Quantum Enigmas as the subject of my presentation. Thanks to all of you.
Date published: 2019-08-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as described in catalogue The catalogue describes the course as an overview of quantum mechanics. It’s not. I’ve watched 13 of the 24 lectures. It’s a deep dive into a very narrow application of quantum mechanics: application of quantum principles to the orbital mechanics of electrons and chemical bonds.
Date published: 2019-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very clear and accessible This is just what I needed to have a fundamental understanding of quantum theory.
Date published: 2019-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very talented teacher Prof. Carlson is an amazing teacher. She is an incredibly good teacher making a very complex subject understandable. I'm not a scientist just interested in this topic. I'm very happy with the course.
Date published: 2019-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making the weird understandable Thus far I am very happy with the course. Dr. Carlson explains weirdness with humor and accuracy. The one thing I keep finding myself wanting is mathematics. A parallel course or "to learn more" link to the mathematics would be very VERY useful.
Date published: 2019-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging lecturer Probably not easy for high school or some college undergrads to understand the material but Dr. Carlson does an excellent job explaining her points clearly with analogies and applications.
Date published: 2019-07-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Instructor but Lacks Depth I expected a little more diversity and a broader subject matter. What is present is interesting but disappointing. I think I was expecting something more in line with "The Mechanical Universe". Am I wrong?
Date published: 2019-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation, but your brain will hurt I’ve been reading books on quantum mechanics for two years trying to find answers to more ethereal questions, and this series of lectures didn’t advance my quest, but it did provide greater practical understanding of the chemistry involved in quantum theory. I’m now retaking the course to increase my understanding of the subject...each lecture required two complete cycles of the material to even get to first base. It’s not that the instructor wasn’t clear. In fact, she was an excellent teacher. The fact is many of the concepts discussed are intrinsically counter intuitive. If you take the course, plan to review each lesson at least twice, and then take the entire course a second time. Suggestions: Include the last 10 minutes of lesson #24 in the introduction (Lesson #1) so the student can have some strong affinity to the outcomes they’ll find at the end. This “jump to the end” can give the student some anchor points as the course unfolds. Second (and I know this will sound petty) but please have the instructor change her pant suit occasionally. I got real tired of seeing the same blue jacket and pants, and white blouse during each of 24 lessons. It took me 2 days to complete each of the lessons, and I’m sure she didn’t wear the same outfit for 58 days straight. (:-) Third, the math was not overwhelming, but I could have used a glossary someplace in the readings that I could reference for some of the terms. I had to go to the internet for more info on Plank’s Constant and Avogadro’s Number has eluded me to this day (6.02 x 10 to the 23rd). I know what it is, but how can that number both represent a mole and all the other things referenced in this course? Hey, I loved taking this course. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be taking it again to try to knit together some of my confusion. But, some days all the information made my brain hurt. Great instructor.
Date published: 2019-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course with clarity Not having any background in Physics, I am really enjoying learning Quantum Mechanics As an Energy Practitioner in Tai chi, lots of Quantum Mechanics principles started making sense and great correlative ideas have come up Recommend this course highly
Date published: 2019-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A truly excellent course To graduate from Caltech with a degree in physics, I was required to take and pass their class in quantum mechanics. It took me two attempts, but fortunately the second time I managed to get a passing grade and thus was able to graduate. However, even after taking quantum mechanics twice as an undergraduate, I emerged knowing little of the actual physics underlying quantum mechanics because the classes were so math intensive. Dr. Carlson does an absolutely wonderful job explaining the physics of quantum mechanics, and now I feel I really do understand the quantum world! I wish I had been able to take this course back when I was a physics major at Caltech!
Date published: 2019-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well done so far - through the 4th lecture This is an excellent introduction to Quantum concepts. The lecturer is clear, the course is well planned and presented.
Date published: 2019-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quantum Mechanics Been almost 60 years since I took a course in atomic physics! Was concerned that the math might be disarming. Not so, kept at very elementary level. - no Riemann Invariants!
Date published: 2019-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Much easier to grasp concepts Clear and concise teaching. Will review/play over again.This is great.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much to get my head around Started off fine but then at around lecture 6 or 7 I just lost the plot.
Date published: 2019-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intuitively understandable analogies. Upon seeing this course appear in the catalogue, I immediately planned to order a copy. The subject of quantum mechanics is of interest to me, thinking along the lines of, 'wouldn't the feminine perspective into the quantum world be interesting?' and so, I was quite pleased. Several topics presented, I had of course heard before, but with Professor Carlson's manner of presentation, something just seemed to 'click' and I could say to myself, "oh, that makes sense now." I would only make on criticism ... more on the production aspect, rather than content, which was great. But one section, she used, or rather had a pair of assistants use, 'slinky' toy as an illustrative aid. I am sure that the production crew employed the backdrop and lighting characteristics in order to make the slinky visible on camera ... and well, it almost worked. The scheme worked well on the first demonstration, but on two following actions, the object slinky was more and more difficult to see. It was even worse when they took still shots of the action and put them up on the screen side by side. The first was just fine, but with the next two, the object slinky was completely invisible. However, the voice of Professor Carlson was there to explain what we were supposed to be seeing! Anyway, A great course, and in other sections, there were pictures similar to ones I had seen in books, but did not really 'get' what meaning I was supposed to realize. Professor Carlson led us on a very clear path to grasp the concept presented.
Date published: 2019-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding the Quantum Worls Good so far. I have only had it for a week. Gives good detail for each subject.
Date published: 2019-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof delivers with quantum energy... I find myself pausing the lecture to make my own notes. Wish high school had been so interesting. Her enthusiasm and sparkling personality carry the day. Her analogies are like sticky notes in my memory. I’m actually making sense of all this. Amazing.
Date published: 2019-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening Graphics! The lectures on standing waves and wave shapes were extremely insightful and the graphics definitely helped clarify them. All of Dr. Carlson's explanations were clear, concise and lucid but the lecture on superposition was particularly helpful. I will definitely refer back to this course and its guidebook.
Date published: 2019-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Introduction to Quantum Mechanical Concepts This set of lectures starts out slowly; I thought the first six lectures were short on content and could have been collapsed into two. Lecture seven is where it becomes interesting, and thereafter I thought it was quite good. I enjoyed the focus on wave quantization and its application to the orbital sets available for constructing the elements of the periodic table. There are spots where I would have wished for less explanation, and spots where I would have wished for more--e.g., a deeper consideration of the Bell Theorem--but that is to be expected in any set of lectures and is hardly cause for complaint. I can recommend it for anyone without substantial knowledge in the subject who is interested in a good, visual approach to quantum thought.
Date published: 2019-05-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from QM for the non-scientist This course seemed to be an effort to relate quantum mechanics to everyday experiences like waves bouncing around the living room, avoiding the couch, etc. But quantum mechanics is a realm apart from classical mechanics, and should be loved and respected for what it is: superposition, quantization, wave-particle duality, entanglement, uncertainty. We need the math. We need Schroedinger's equation, etc.
Date published: 2019-05-19
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