Particles in the Continuous Quantum Field

The last thing I discussed in the last post was about the energy eigenstates of the continuous field. The ground state $|0\rangle$ classically corresponds to there being no displacement in the chain at any spatial index $x$ and quantum mechanically corresponds to each oscillator for each normal mode index $k$ being in its ground state, while the first excited state $|k\rangle = a^{\dagger} (k)|0\rangle$ for a given $k$ classically corresponds to a traveling plane wave normal mode of wavevector $k$ and quantum mechanically corresponds to only the oscillator at the given normal mode index $k$ being in its first excited state (and all others being in their ground states). The excited state $|k\rangle$ has energy $E = \hbar v|k|$ above the ground state and overall momentum $p = \hbar k$ above the ground state. This post will discuss what the second and higher excited states are. Follow the jump to see more.


Operators and States of the Continuous Quantum Field

In my last post about intuiting and visualizing quantum field theory, I discussed the diagonalization of the Hamiltonian and overall momentum and how they become operators. In this post I'm going to discuss more the meanings of the operators and associated quantum states of this field. Follow the jump to see more.


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 August 18

There was one post this past week that got a few comments, so I'll repost one of those.

Cap and Trade and Soda

After an odd irritable initial pair of ranting comments, an anonymous reader followed up with this: "i apologize for my snide remarks before. i was just irritated. okay, so maybe there are a few other ingredients (like oils). it might be worth your while to check out OpenCola, which (or so i've heard online) tastes pretty close to Coke. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCola_(drink)".

Thanks to that commenter for that (and especially also for apologizing about the previous comments). This coming week I will have a few more posts about quantum field theory out, but no reviews as I had promised, as that will likely have to wait until after I get back to campus next week. In the meantime, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Diagonalizing and Quantizing the Continuous Field Hamiltonian

In my previous post I discussed the intuition behind the classical acoustic field in one dimension. Now I'm going to talk about diagonalizing the Hamiltonian and making the step into quantum field theory. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


Classical Discrete and Continuum Fields

I've been reading various documents about quantum field theory over the last several weeks, specifically about the canonical quantization of quantum fields. In doing so, I've come to realize that quantum mechanics has a lot of crazy math and even crazier physical interpretations, and I just took that for granted, but now those things are coming back to haunt me in quantum field theory. It is very hard for me to wrap my head around, and I feel like I could use a lot more help in visualizing and intuiting what certain concepts in canonical quantization mean. This will be the first of a few posts which are outlets for me to gather my thoughts and put them out there for you all to see and correct; this one will be about classical fields.

I feel like the easiest quantum field system to study is the phonon. It is a spin-0 bosonic system, so it can be described by a scalar field. Furthermore, said field can be restricted to one dimension, which simplifies the math even further. This means that taking the continuum limit becomes a bit easier than in three dimensions. Follow the jump to see how it goes.


Cap and Trade and Soda

A few days ago, my family and I went on vacation. On the way back, my family and I were discussing various things including some matters of politics. One thing that came up was some of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent actions. I expressed the view that the ban on soft drinks larger than 16 ounces seemed rather heavy-handed. (After reading a little more about the exceptions for fruit drinks along with sales at grocery stores, I'm a little more happy to see that, but I still feel the ban was heavy-handed.) I then heard the argument that even if it is heavy-handed, it does help combat the obesity crisis by reducing access to drinking 16 ounces of soda at a time, because even if it is still technically possible for someone to fill up an 8-ounce cup twice, human psychology is such that said person would only fill up once, because for many people the convenience of filling up once trumps the desire to have as much as possible. I then wondered what other alternatives could be considered. The simplest alternative would seem to be a tax akin to taxes on cigarettes; if the large sodas are taxed heavily at such venues, people would naturally be discouraged from drinking as much. I have taken the class 14.03 — Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy, though, so I have seen that in many cases a Pigovian tax scheme like that may not achieve the most efficient outcome because it is difficult to adjust tax rates to control quantities precisely. Then I also remembered learning about cap and trade schemes to control quantities. Would that work? Let's take a look after the jump.


Reflection: 2013 Summer UROP

Wow. This summer has been incredibly busy, productive, and fun all at once. I can't believe it's already over!

So what did I do this summer?
My primary concern this summer was my UROP. I have been able to bring it very close to an end point; I wasn't able to finish it up completely, but I guess that was an unrealistic expectation because that's just not how science works. It doesn't wrap up cleanly; it's an ongoing process. I learned a whole lot more about Scheme and MEEP in the process, though, which was great.
On a related note, another UROP project fell by the wayside (as I wrote about earlier this summer) once I realized it was based on flawed calculations. To be honest, I'm not really sure if I want to pick up that project again and try to bring it to some sort of conclusion or if that's really worth my time.
My secondary concern was preparing for graduate school. I took the GRE this past Tuesday, and I am happy to say that went quite well. I have also been studying for the Physics GRE, along with making my list of graduate schools/programs/professors that I want to further investigate and send applications.
My tertiary concern was making another video for the MIT-K12 project. That went off successfully as well.

Apart from that, not being around my usual set of friends for the summer had a silver lining. While I would have certainly liked to have been able to hang out with them more, I was able to become a lot closer to a few people who usually live on my floor during the semester and hang out with them a lot more. Compared to the end of last semester, where I would basically just say "hi" to them but not a whole lot more, I now intend to hang out with them significantly more during this coming semester.

What didn't I do? These things didn't happen because I didn't have the time or energy to carry them out.
I wasn't able to edit and publish all the videos I took of 8.033 lectures from 2 years ago. In fact, I couldn't really look at those at all.
I wasn't able to do much work for OCW as I had planned.
(Actually, that's mostly it.)

I'm excited for the coming semester. My classes all look quite exciting, and I'm still deciding what I want to do regarding my UROP once my current project can truly said to be concluded. That said, I feel a bit sad that this has been my last summer at MIT, and it is already over. After that, I only have 9 more months at this place. I hope I can make those 9 months really special. Before that, though, I'll be going on a vacation with my family for a few days and then spending the remaining 1.5 weeks of August at home. Yay!


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 August 4

There was one post this past week that got one comment, so I will repost that one.

Review: Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" KDE + Xfce

An anonymous reader said, "Looking at your screenshots from the KDE spin I don´t see them looking different from oxygen. Did you change them before taking the screenshots? Also a general thank you for reviewing distros."

Thanks to that person for leaving that comment. This coming week, I'm going to be taking the GRE, so I definitely can't post anything until after Tuesday. After that, I may really only have time to put out my planned post reflecting on the past summer. After that, I'm going to be relaxing at home for two weeks, so my posts may become somewhat sporadic until September, which is when I get back to campus. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" KDE + Xfce

I realize that I haven't posted anything in the last 2.5 weeks. That's because in that time I got quite busy with a combination of UROP work, video making for the MIT-K12 project, and studying for the General and Physics GREs. Given that I will be taking the General GRE in just over a week, and given that I will be going home for vacation shortly thereafter, I won't be able to post much after this for this month aside from a probable post reflecting on the summer. That said, it is a Sunday as I write this, and I figured I could use a break from the studying. So to do that, I'm reviewing Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" KDE and Xfce.

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
Why am I doing this if I have already reviewed the MATE and Cinnamon editions? Well, if you remember those reviews, I felt a little let down by both; granted, I could still recommend the MATE edition to newbies, but it wasn't with the same confidence as in the past. I want to see if the latest version of Linux Mint can redeem itself through the KDE or Xfce editions.

I tried each separately through a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what each is like.