Happy Holidays from ThinkTank Maths - 2010

23 December 2010

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This year, the TTM team has created a personalised season’s greeting for you inspired by our work on quantum systems.

The behaviour of quantum objects – tiny particles like electrons or photons – contradicts our everyday intuition. Sometimes they behave like solid particles, colliding and bouncing off each other. Sometimes they display wavelike properties such as diffraction – the same phenomenon that creates rainbows.

The laws of this amazing branch of physics called “Quantum Mechanics” resolve this apparent mismatch by including all the information about the tiny objects in a mathematical description called the wave function. It turns out that from a mathematical point of view, waves and particles are two sides of the same coin.

A wave function is said to describe all the possible states that the object can be in – for example, all possible locations where we could observe it. The evolutions of the wave function over time are governed by a famous equation called the Schrödinger equation.

Your Evolving Quantum State

What you see above is not just a random animation but a quantum system created to provide you with a glimpse of the quantum world. The movements of the shape are derived from solutions to the Schrödinger equation, using the letters of your name to determine the possible states.

Different combinations of letters lead to different shapes and behaviours. Feel free to search for interesting quantum systems by trying out the names of friends and relatives.

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year from everyone at ThinkTank Maths!


Explore other ThinkTank Maths seasonal greetings.

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