In my first post I'll briefly talk about my first proper piece of
research, my Master thesis. As part of my last year of Cambridge I
spent 6 months doing a project in the theoretical chemistry group of
Prof. Dr. Stuart
Although I've done a few smaller research projects in previous summers,
it is still quite different if one works on a topic for 6 months rather
than just a few weeks. At the beginning it is much less clear what will
be achieved and throughout it is quite difficult to keep everything
ordered in your mind. From the little research I've done up to now, I'd
say that staying on top of what you have tried and what has actually
worked is quite crucial in order to not get lost in the ocean of
possibilities. Most of the time what helped me was to go and talk to
other members of the group about my work, trying to get ideas of the
conversations. Luckily my group was very open about that and within just
a few days I found myself taking part in passionate discussions.
What fascinated me most about the topic of quantum
were the mathematical and physical challenges. Firstly, we never really
talked about tunnelling in lectures in a quantitative way, meaning that
we never considered ways to actually calculate the resulting splittings
in the spectra. So this project offered a good chance to gain a more
thorough understanding of this quantum mechanical phenomenon. Next, the
method to calculate the splittings uses the so-called Feynman path
description of Quantum Mechanics and ever since my Physics friends
talked about this over lunch, I was curious to find out more about it.
This thesis provided an excellent opportunity to do so.
I will probably write a little bit more about ring-polymer instanton
theory in a later post, but for now I will just provide the thesis
itself. My first draft massively exceeded the allowed word limit, so I
had to remove some details -- mostly from the theory section. This
shorter version is the version I handed in and got my degree for. It can
be found by clicking the link "Dissertation" in the table
below. A proof-read extended version including
everything from the first draft is given below as well.