[printer friendly version]


"Group Theory & Molecular Gymnastics"

Dudley Herschbach
Texas A \& M University


In the early days of quantum mechanics, ``Gruppenpest” was the epithet many physicists applied to the then novel mathematics Eugene Wigner used in 1926 for ``the deliberate utilization of elementary symmetry properties.” Today, group theory has an aristocratic role in many domains of physics. Yet it is seldom taught even in graduatelevel quantum mechanics courses. This seminar offers a workaday approach, illustrated with applications to molecular spectroscopy. Heuristic use of symmetry is exemplified by inferring the energy level pattern and selection rules for transitions of an asymmetric rotor. Also visited is the more gymnastic case with a methyl group attached to the asymmetric rotor, where terms in the molecular Hamiltonian have different symmetry properties. Such terms compete and dominate in different regions of the spectrum.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
IQSE 578, 11:30 a.m.
Mitchell Physics Building

(Pizza, salad, and soda served at 12:30 PM outside IQSE 578)
(The Insight Club will meet Nov 3 at 10 AM in IQSE 578)