Quantum Three Body problem: The problem of Sun-Moon-Earth

The article is third in the series of three articles written under The problem of Sun-Moon-Earth.

Understanding and solving the quantum three body problem is essential. Our sun continuously provides us with energy using nuclear fusion process. If we are able to recreate this fusion process successfully on earth, we will be able to solve the energy problems of our planet, providing us with a great source of energy which does not pollute. The most important part of this fusion nuclear reaction happening in the sun is the fusion of the Deuteron (the nucleus of Hydrogen-2) and Triton (the nucleus of Hydrogen-3) into one, which leads to release of energy. The Deuteron is a well understood two problem. Understanding Triton will make us understand how these fusions occur and help us calculate necessary quantities which we need for creating a fusion reactor on earth, hence contributing towards the solution of earth’s energy problem.

An example of thee body problem.

To solve this problem, we need to invoke certain symmetries and mathematics specific to the nucleus and we have been able to solve this. But how do we know what we did is correct? Here comes the power of experiments. There have been numerous experimental observations which are able to give us some numbers of certain quantities which the experimenters can measure. Now, from our calculations and equations, we are able to calculate those quantities which are experimentally observed. If they match, then we can say that our theory and all the calculations we did are correct. In our case, this treatment yields us the experimentally correct result for the observed components of the wave function of Triton. We are able to solve the simplest nuclear quantum three body problem.

Understanding physical systems with theoretical physics involves venturing through a lot of mathematics and imagination. Many a times to an untrained eye, this mathematics seems to be unnecessary to learn and quiet hypothetical. But once we train ourselves enough, we will be able to see that this math which we may call fancy is actually the way nature speaks to us. It is the language waiting to be decoded and waiting to be put together by our wit for understanding specific problems we would like to study (like Triton). If we stay unaware of this knowledge and someday nature tries to speak with us, we might not be able to listen.

Nishchal Dwivedi

Nishchal Dwivedi is a theoretical physicist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and a TEDx speaker.


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