Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

Energy Is Everything

What is quantum mechanics?

Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that is needed to provide an accurate description of objects with very small mass, such as electrons. It does so using an approach that describes matter as being both similar to a particle and similar to a wave. The description of a particle in quantum mechanics is contained in something called a wave function, which can be related to the probability of an object being in any of its possible states.

One interesting and counterintuitive thing we learn from quantum mechanics is that, for particles with very small mass, the position, velocity, and other quantities defining the state of the particle cannot all be precisely specified at the same time. The wavelike description offered by quantum mechanics is needed to explain why molecules have discrete energy levels, along with many other experimental observations from physical chemistry that are inconsistent with classical mechanics.


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