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/sci/ - Science & Math

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10195231 No.10195231 [Reply] [Original] [archived.moe]

Question for chemists, is quantum chemistry basically watered down quantum mechanics? Doesn't seem like you guys have to take that much mathematics.

>> No.10195292
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The quantum chemistry course for undergrad chemists is not exactly "watered down quantum mechanics", but it is watered down and significantly less rigorous than a quantum mechanics class for physicists would be because chemists haven't been held to the same standards of math. Quantum chemists as a field, on the other hand, is absolutely not "watered down quantum mechanics", and is also generally not a field pursued by people with undergraduate chemistry education (with some exceptions). For instance, the most important quantum chemistry-related Nobel went to Walter Kohn and John Pople, who were both trained as applied mathematicians.

Since the Schrödinger equation cannot be solved exactlz for atomic or molecular systems, approximations needed to be developed so as to model molecules in a way that has predictive power. This is especially important for things like inorganic compounds and spectroscopy, which cannot be modelled with more qualitative methods like hybridization theory. Essentially, quantum chemistry as a field is dedicated to finding these applications, applying them to molecular systems, and using them to generate predictive models that can be correlated to chemical experiments. It's general conclusions (namely MO theory) need to be broadly understood by all chemists, but only theoretical chemists really need to understand the details. It is actually a pretty dense field and it tends to be kind of inaccessible to people from both chemistry & physics backgrounds, hence a lot of the main contributors have been applied mathematicians.
Also, it's actually awesome field, because it's fundamental enough that it's interesting if you like physics, but the predictions it makes are actually pretty practical and useful to a lot of people, and they are routinely experimentally verified.

>> No.10195317

Thank you anon

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