Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World

By Michael D. Fayer | Go to book overview

10
The Hydrogen Atom:
Quantum Theory

IN 1925 SCHRODINGER AND HEISENBERG separately developed quantum theory. Their two formulations are mathematically different, but their theories are rigorous and form the underpinning of modern quantum theory. At about the same time, Dirac made major contributions as well. First, he presented a unified view of quantum theory that showed that the Schrödinger and Heisenberg theories, while mathematically different, were equivalent representations of quantum mechanics. In addition, he developed a quantum theory for the hydrogen atom that is also consistent with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The formulation by Schrodinger is the most often used to describe atoms and molecules. Therefore, most of our discussions, starting with the hydrogen atom and then going on to larger atoms and molecules, will be based on the concepts and language that is inherent in the Schrodinger approach.


THE SCHRODINGER EQUATION

We used a very simple but correct mathematical method for obtaining the energy levels of the particle in the box and the wavefunctions,

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