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Relativistic Quantum Chemistry (wikipedia.org)
70 points by mooreds on Oct 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

It is a very interesting topic indeed. I plan to work on it after I finish my PhD thesis.

I believe that it’s literally one of the most overlooked parts of modern physics. We literally don’t know how to correctly and accurately calculate heavy atoms and molecules and include both special relativity AND electron correlation (and preferably also QED). Somehow most of the physicists left that problem behind and focused on nuclear and high energy physics.

I’m my opinion solving it, contrarily to focusing on abstract mathematical theories that are verifiable in energies beyond what humanity will be capable of in next 100 years or so, is truly one of the most challenging, yet verifiable problems of XXI century physics.

This submission was probably inspired by a recent post[1] on Derek Lowe’s blog. It’s an interesting read if you like this subject. Mercury has a much lower melting point because of relativistic effects.

Edit: I see it was resubmitted.


What is it with mercury and relativity?

Mercury is the only metal liquid in the room temperature. It behaves that way thanks to the relativistic effects i.e. things that happen when electrons move close to the speed of light.

Mercury’s place in periodic table is such that these effects are taken to the extreme due to its electron configuration.

Here is nice popular article with references that explain more: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/relativity-behind-mercur...

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