Visualization of quantum phenomena
Austen, David J.
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Many abstract phenomena are, by their nature, "unseeable". What then does it mean to visualize quantum phenomena such as Compton Scattering, Alpha and Beta Decay, or collisional de-excitation? Perhaps more importantly, how can one construct visualizations of such phenomena without introducing misconceptions or harmful distortions? In this paper we propose to navigate the troubled waters between the abstract presentation of ideas on one hand and visually enhanced representations of these same ideas on the other. We will illustrate this with a number of visualizations that we have produced as part of an ongoing project to visualize the unseen world of quantum phenomena. We will also present a summary of well known misconceptions about quantum phenomena held by students and suggest which of these are likely to be ameliorated through careful use of visualizations and which will likely be resistant to such treatments.