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ERIC Number: EJ1057044
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
A "Bit" of Quantum Mechanics
Oss, Stefano; Rosi, Tommaso
Physics Teacher, v53 n4 p230-233 Apr 2015
We have developed an app for iOS-based smart-phones/tablets that allows a 3-D, complex phase-based colorful visualization of hydrogen atom wave functions. Several important features of the quantum behavior of atomic orbitals can easily be made evident, thus making this app a useful companion in introductory modern physics classes. There are many reasons why quantum mechanical systems and phenomena are difficult both to teach and deeply understand. They are described by equations that are generally hard to visualize, and they often oppose the so-called "common sense" based on the human perception of the world, which is built on mental images such as locality and causality. Moreover students cannot have direct experience of those systems and solutions, and generally do not even have the possibility to refer to pictures, videos, or experiments to fill this gap. Teachers often encounter quite serious troubles in finding out a sensible way to speak about the wonders of quantum physics at the high school level, where complex formalisms are not accessible at all. One should however consider that this is quite a common issue in physics and, more generally, in science education. There are plenty of natural phenomena whose models (not only at microscopic and atomic levels) are of difficult, if not impossible, visualization. Just think of certain kinds of waves, fields of forces, velocities, energy, angular momentum, and so on. One should also notice that physical reality is not the same as the images we make of it. Pictures (formal, abstract ones, as well as artists' views) are a convenient bridge between these two aspects.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A