onsdag 3 augusti 2016

New Quantum Mechanics 11: Helium Mystery Resolved

The modern physics of quantum mechanics born in 1926 was a towering success for the Hydrogen atom with one electron, but already Helium with two electrons posed difficulties, which have never been resolved (to be true).

The result is that prominent physicists always pride themselves by stating that quantum mechanics cannot be understood, only be followed to the benefit of humanity, like a religion:
  • I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. (Richard Feynman, in The Character of Physical Law (1965))
Text books and tables list the ground state of Helium as $1S^2$ with two spherically symmetric electrons (the S) with opposite spin in a first shell (the 1), named parahelium.  The energy of a $1S^2$ state according to basic quantum  theory is equal to -2.75 (Hartree), while the observation of ground state energy  is -2.903. To handle this apparent collapse of basic quantum theory, the computation of energy is changed by introducing a suitable perturbation away from spherical symmetry which delivers the wanted result of -2.903, while maintaining that the ground state still is $1S^2$.

Of course, this does not make sense, but since quantum mechanics is not "anschaulich" or  "visualisable" (as required by Schrödinger) and therefore cannot be understood by humans, this is not a big deal.  By a suitable perturbation the desired result can be reached, and we are not allowed to ask any further questions following the dictate of Dirac: Shut up and calculate.

New Quantum Mechanics resolves the situation as follows:

The ground state is predicted to be a spherically (half-)symmetric continuous electron charge distribution with each electron occupying a half-space, and the electrons meeting on at plane (free boundary) where the normal derivative for each electron charge distribution vanishes. The result of ground state energy computations according to earlier posts shows close agreement with the observed -2.903:

Notice the asymmetric electron potential and the resulting slightly asymmetric charge distribution with polar accumulation. The model shows a non-standard electron configuration, which may be the true one (if there is anything like that).

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