Green Room

Today in higher education: How to prepare students to learn quantum mechanics

posted at 12:36 pm on February 19, 2013 by

Via the College Fix, here’s one way to cleanse the mental palate before tackling the most notoriously surreal branch of physics. Alternate headline: “Professor finally gets to live out ‘Clockwork Orange’ programming fantasy.”

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Should be titled…. “Things you can do in class once you have tenure.”

Nethicus on February 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM

An attempt to prepare the stoonts for a mind bending introduction to a world unlike any they can imagine. I think he’s doing the right thing.

FOWG1 on February 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The best way to get ready for QM is to have a deep, thorough grounding in the associated mathematics. Just as human brains are crap for large numbers, they’re crap for QM. The math is the tool by which you can evaluate testable statements in QM and fiddle with its rules.

Prufrock on February 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I think I’ll stick with philosophy.

Cornell Conservative on February 19, 2013 at 1:23 PM

The best way to get ready for QM is to have a deep, thorough grounding in the associated mathematics. Just as human brains are crap for large numbers, they’re crap for QM. The math is the tool by which you can evaluate testable statements in QM and fiddle with its rules.

Prufrock on February 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

So true. I did a lot of QM in grad school related to molecular spectroscopy. I had a steep learning curve because I didn’t have a strong matrix mathematics background. Those fellow students who did had an easier time with problem solving and having a more intuitive grasp of the concepts.

Undoubtedly this course was a fluff science course for non-science/math/engineering students.

SPCOlympics on February 19, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Just the kind of Post I would expect from an Anti-Science PLUPERFECT IDIOT!!!

williamg on February 19, 2013 at 3:06 PM

A required one hour course in quantum mechanics? Is the alternative a one-hour course in brain surgery? It’d be equally useless.

Somehow, I think a required one hour course about the constitution might go a long way further toward actually, you know, helping the country and these kids.

What an absolute piece of sh!t. Good luck to whoever is paying tuition for this kind of “higher education”. I guess after the one hour course, you get a participation trophy?

bofh on February 19, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Physics is my thing, but it took me at least a year to really accept it, even with a strong math background. You really have to give up all of the physical intuition you have built up, because everything you see day-to-day is just an approximation, and reality is simply different than what you think you know.
It’s actually kind of like coming to understand the real world after a decade of the leftist indoctrination we call public education.

Count to 10 on February 19, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Yes, but a deep, thorough grounding in a broad range of other sciences is needed in addition to the math.

It always make me laugh when people think that they can get any type of understanding of QM without doing all the necessary perquisite work.

blink on February 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

I always found that an intuition for normal stuff did no good. Hours upon hours of repetitive drudge work with the math is what made things clear up.

I’m not talking about spectroscopy demos – they show the “what”. The “why” is the hard part.

Prufrock on February 19, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Prufrock on February 19, 2013 at 9:33 PM

blink on February 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

I’m a recent EE degree earner and I stumbled onto this video of Richard Feynman explaining ‘magnets’, and thought, “Wow, this guy’s gonna take this to a whole ‘nuthah level.” Well . . . at first I was kind of disappointed and maybe a little bit pissed. But then I watched it a few more times and I started to realize that he was just trying to be as frank and honest and perhaps really damned humble as he could be about not blithely handing out some kind of “profound” explanation.

It also made me wonder how the Reichs and Krugmans of the world can look at themselves in the mirror after lecturing to a bunch of ignoramuses and tell themselves that anyone was walking out of the hall with any kind of substantive, quantitative understanding of their propaganda BS.

HarneyPeak on February 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

I’d settle for economics!

Christian Conservative on February 19, 2013 at 10:56 PM

At least these students may come to appreciate quantum mechanics as a legitimate and useful field of study for the murder of innocent cats. . . Perhaps.

Dr Snooze on February 20, 2013 at 7:31 AM

HarneyPeak on February 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

It is a damn shame that RPF was such an idiot when it came to GOD.

tom daschle concerned on February 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Better intro: the double slit experiment. Ask the students to explain that one, then introduce other research. The only way is to construct a math model and try to make it fit Einstein’s physics.
Good luck!

flataffect on February 21, 2013 at 2:22 PM