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Applets for quantum mechanics

Rating: 4 stars
Used in Course: Not used in course
Submitted by: Sheila Dodson (Student), Apr 30, 2001
Comment: More vital than a book full of equations and physical laws, is the imagination
of the physicist. For it is our imagination and physical intuition that lead us
to new discoveries. Web pages such as this one help students see, and
therefore be able to better imagine the world of quantum mechanics.
The beauty of java applets is their ability to show experiments that are
difficult, or even impossible to reproduce in the class room. For example, the
applet displaying the spreading of the wave packet shows students something they
could never see in real life by showing not only the way the packet spreads
over time, but the real AND IMAGINARY components of the wave. Illustrations
such as these simultaneously help the student understand the situations quantum
mechanics deal with, and hopefully spark their imagination as well.
The customizable nature of the applets transforms the simulations into virtual
experiments, allowing the students to put their new knowledge to work. They can
gain a wonderfull intuition about the various systems by playing with the
different variables.
With all this in mind, it is important to remember that the applets alone
cannot do the full job of teaching quantum mechanics. No matter how interactive
they are, they are still limited to the boundaries of their program. As a
result they can never answer all the questions and address all the concerns of
prospective students. They must retain their position in life as a teaching
tool, not a teacher.

Technical Remarks:

The provided text boxes are very small, making it impossible to read the entire
text and view the applet at the same time. Given the wonderfull job the
programmers did putting together these applets, this is definately negligable,
yet an annoying feature of this site. On the other hand I must comment that the
translation from French to English was done quite well, with the exception of a
few typos