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I know that wavefunctions describe the distribution of an electron in an atom but I am having trouble understanding that concept. For one, why is it called a wavefunction and does it have anything to do with an atom's energy levels?
The wave function predicts statistically where an electron will be at a certain time. The wave function is a probability so it is still largely a "theory" which makes it difficult to understand. However, an orbital is a mathematical function that describes the wave-like behavior of the electron, so it could be used to help depict this probability.
I think for the purpose of the class and for learning about the "Quantum World", knowing the Schrodinger Wave Function Equation is essential for a conceptual understanding. From my understanding the equation allows us to gain a probable location of the particle (probability density) by solving the equation for the particle's wave function. The particle in a box idea helps to conceptualize a limited space with certain wavelengths. The book does a good job of highlighting its conceptual importance, and why the Quantum World exhibits unique phenomena.
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