Friday, August 24, 2012

Sudden Approximation In QM Verified

It's always nice to see experiments that verify the basic, textbook stuff that many of us have used when we were students learning physics. This is one such case.

Experiments on singly-ionized 6He and observing the effect of the beta decay into 6Li has confirmed the quantum mechanical technique that we have used in QM classes - the superposition of the initial state with the final state, where the final state has a form that is an approximation of the initial state, i.e. the sudden approximation method!

Professor Patyk’s team has been collaborating with teams of physicists working in GAEN accelerator centre in Caen (Normandie, France) for several years. Calculations performed by NCBJ physicists to the accuracy of 4 significant places yielded the 2.3% probability that beta-decay will be liberating the sole orbital electron of the 6He ion, i.e. will be producing a totally ionized lithium atom. To a comparable accuracy that result was confirmed by some experiments performed at the French accelerator.

“Such a good agreement between theoretical predictions and experimental findings in such a simple (almost textbook) system is the first direct proof that the sudden approximation computational method utilized to solve quantum mechanics problems for almost a century is indeed correct” points out Professor Patyk.
 Good to know that a lot of the textbook materials can and have been verified, even if in many cases, these are "idealized" systems. Often, these idealized systems are not that easy to replicate and verified.


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