Friday, 9 February 2007

S103: Block 7 - the quantum world

Now its into block 7, and we're exploring the quantum world.
This is a touch subject, not particularly because its hard, but because it is non-intuitive.

As Niels Bohr said,

Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum mechanics cannot possibly have understood it.
And as Richard Feynman said
I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics.
The first few chapters are about quantum indeterminacy and the problems with uncertainty at the quantum level. Then we explore the various fundamental particles and the wave/particle duality of light.

A number of students sink to their lowest ebb at this point in the course it seems. Quite a few find this very difficult material, and as it is so other worldly, they struggle through.

However, for this course, its not all bad news, as only half of this book is assessed in the next TMA, and that TMA is optional. There are 4 more TMAs to do at this point in the course, which are basically:
  • TMA-6 - a little bit of quantum physics, but mostly Block 8 chemistry.
  • TMA-7 - Biology
  • TMA-8 - Geosciences
  • TMA-9 - Physics
For these you have to do 3, and so you drop one. Quite a few people drop the final one, and the OU encourage you very strongly to do TMA-6 as it is the foundation for quite a lot of future studies.

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