Visual Quantum Mechanics


These pages contain comprehensive information about the books

  1. Visual Quantum Mechanics ("Book One")
  2. Advanced Visual Quantum Mechanics ("Book Two", to appear June 2004)

These are conventional textbooks with an electronic component. The books form a fairly complete, modern text about quantum mechanics. A lot of animated illustrations on the accompanying CD-ROMs serve to investigate, motivate, and illustrate the theory presented in the books.

I believe that by watching the movies one can reach a deeper and more intuitive understanding than by the conventional approach. The systematic use of colors helps to visualize the full mathematical and physical content of wave functions in a very intuitive way. It shows the position probability density and the complex phases (momentum distribution) in a single visualization.

The visual approach sheds new light on the subject. The desire to understand the movies motivates the selection of topics and influences the method of presentation. For example, the text strongly emphasizes quantum dynamics and contains modern topics not presented in textbooks before (see the table of contents for Book One or Book Two). But despite the presentatiion of several advanced topics, the books require only calculus, thus providing a bridge between elementary introductions and more advanced presentations.

The main audience are students in the fields of Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry. In particular, these books are useful as a supplement for courses in Theoretical Physics, both for for undergraduate and graduate students. Even experts and researchers will occasionally get surprising insights from the movies. Comments by readers and reviewers can be found here.

Students should be assisted but not distracted by the use of a computer. Therefore the books are designed as conventional textbooks. The animations on the CD-ROMs are presented in an easy-to-use multimedia framework together with further explanations and illustrations. The point-and-click interface requires no special computer skills. The user-interface has been further improved for Book Two.

What can I find here?

This web site has information about the bibliographical details and the contents of Book One and Book Two. It contains sample movies from the CD-ROMs as well as supplementary material (additional movies), errata, and reader's comments.

Many animations were produced with Mathematica. For the advanced student VQM provides all the tools necessary to produce his/her own visualizations. This includes the VQM packages (a collection of useful Mathematica packages), an OpenGL-based visualization tool QuantumGL, and many thousand lines of Mathematica source code to be modified for the reader's own experiments.

Here you can download the latest versions of the software, and find additional Mathematica notebooks. Macintosh users can upgrade the software for Book One to a version for OS X here.

Here are some projects realized by students (still under construction).

Here are some links to other sites related to quantum mechanics and visualization. The gallery contains visualizations of complex-valued analytic functions, some images of quantum wave functions, and screen shots from the presentation software on the CD-ROMs aaccompanying the books. These examples may serve you to gain some familiarity with the color map used to visualize complex numbers.