Building a quantum model: Postulates and Experiment

In-class Content


Goals: Students should be able to:

  • articulate that the mathematics of quantum mechanics constitutes a mathematical model of physical phenomena.
  • articulate that the state of a system is the condition of the system.
  • articulate that the quantum state is described by a vector. The quantum state vector represents all of the information we can know about a physical system.

Whole Class Discussion

  • What is a scientific model? Can you give some examples? Why are they important? What are their limitations?
  • What do we mean by the phrase “the state of a physical system”?


  • The State Postulate “The state of a quantum mechanical system, including all the information you can know about it, is represented mathematically by a normalized ket $|\psi\rangle$.”
  • We want to describe the state of these neutral silver atoms by describing the intrinsic angular momentum.
  • The Stern-Gerlach experiment will help us to determine the state of the electron in the outer shell of the silver atoms.



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