OK. It’s been a couple of days now. Let’s see if I can remember anything from Prof. Brian Cox’s Royal Institute lecture “A Night with the Stars” on quantum mechanics (18.12.11) …
1) Atoms made of mostly nothing. Forces keeping particles apart.
2) Electrons and very small things behave like particles and waves i.e. have wave-particle duality
3) Different energies required to sustain different wave frequencies, and end up in diff positions or states -> electron shells …
4) Pauli’s Exclusion Principle – similar electrons cannot occupy the same energy state – applies to whole universe , simultaneously !!!
5) Feynman’s path integral -> can derive the time for particle to move a known distance, or, the probability of particles moving in a “reasonable time” a known distance -> is proportional to it’s size, as Planck constant is so small, and is the denominator i.e. probability of a movement goes up the smaller you get esp. when approaching Planck sizes 10¯34 ie. very very small. Penny drops – this is why sub-atomic particles appear to behave so diferently to the macro-world !!!
6) Collapse of stars reaches point at which Pauli’s exclusion principle cannot be broken i.e. particles packed together -> white dwarf minimum size – ALL observations agree ! Stars with lots of carbon pack into very large diamonds !
7) Have I missed something ? Oh yes, great teeth and hair.
Anyway, Father Christmas will be delivering Cox’s and Forshaw’s book on Quantum Physics this year, so I will update with corrections and more detail.
P.S.Wish I’d seen this before attempting to explain the 3d electron shell of Fe in my doctoral thesis. Oh well, that was 13 yrs ago.