Friday, April 26, 2002
4:00 PM
Physics Building, Room 204
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"A Singular Potential:from Theorist's Toy to Experimental Realization"

Sidney A. Coon , NSF and New Mexico State University
[Host: S. Liuti]
The inverse square potential (V(r)~1/r**2), first studied by Cote, a contemporary of Isaac Newton, is an interesting potential for nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. It lies on the edge of the line dividing potentials which can be treated in the familiar manner and those which are singular. Singular potentials have been studied for a long time because they can be regarded as models for nonrenormalizable field theories, and, more recently, as an element of the new paradigm of effective field theory methods in nuclear physics. In this talk, I will demonstrate the mathematics of the 1/r**2 potential, including the anomalous (quantum mechanical) breaking of scale symmetry and a rigorous treatment of absorption ("fall to the center"). Correct mathematics leads to a quantum mechanical understanding of the formation of anions (electrons bound by the dipole moment of a polar molecule) and of a very recent dedicated experimental study of this potential in the context of manipulation of cold atoms.

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