Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Momentum and position—it's all you need

I've had a bit of downtime recently which has led to thumbing through my undergrad QM book, Griffiths' Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, out of curiosity.

In the very first chapter he makes the statement "The fact is, all classical dynamical variables can be expressed in terms of position and momentum." To be honest, I never fully realized this as an undergrad, and if I did, it certainly did not leave such an impression on me to have remained in my memory.

Is this bit of knowledge a common oversight in the education of physics students, or something that simply went unnoticed by me? Furthermore, how important is it to the development of a student's understanding of physics?