Preface to First Edition
The development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s was the greatest advance in physical science since the work of Isaac Newton. It was not easy; the ideas of quantum mechanics present a profound departure from ordinary human intuition. Quantum mechanics has won acceptance through its success. It is essential to modern atomic, molecular, nuclear, and elementary particle physics, and to a great deal of chemistry and condensed matter physics as well.
There are many fine books on quantum mechanics, including those by Dirac and Schiff from which I learned the subject a long time ago. Still, when I have taught the subject as a one-year graduate course, I found that none of these books quite fit what I wanted to cover. For one thing, I like to give a much greater emphasis than usual to principles of symmetry, including their role in motivating commutation rules. (With this approach the canonical formalism is not needed for most purposes, so a systematic treatment of this formalism is delayed until Chapter 9.) Also, I cover some modern topics that of course could not have been treated in the books of long ago, including numerous examples from elementary particle physics, alternatives to the Copenhagen interpretation, and a brief (very brief) introduction to the theory and experimental tests of entanglement and its application in quantum computation. In addition, I go into some topics that are often omitted in books on quantum mechanics: Bloch waves, time-reversal invariance, the Wigner–Eckart theorem, magic numbers, isotopic spin symmetry, “in” and “out” states, the “in–in” formalism, the Berry phase, Dirac's theory of constrained canonical systems, Levinson's theorem, the general optical theorem, the general theory of resonant scattering, applications of functional analysis, photoionization, Landau levels, multipole radiation, etc.
The chapters of the book are divided into sections, which on average approximately represent a single seventy-five minute lecture. The material of this book just about fits into a one-year course, which means that much else has had to be skipped. Every book on quantum mechanics represents an exercise in selectivity – I can't say that my selections are better than those of other authors, but at least they worked well for me when I taught the course.