Home » News & Blogs » Spin: The Quantum Property That Should Have Been Impossible
Bookmark and Share
Starts With a Bang!

Spin: The Quantum Property That Should Have Been Impossible

5 Dec 2017, 15:01 UTC
Spin: The Quantum Property That Should Have Been Impossible
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

George Uhlenbeck (L) and Samuel Goudsmit (R) came up with the idea of quantum spin in the mid-1920s. This photo was taken with Hendrik Kramers (center) in 1928 (Public Domain)How a quantum number that made no physical sense turned out to be real… and irreplaceable.In the early 1920s, physicists were first working out the mysteries of the quantum Universe. Particles sometimes behaved as waves, with indeterminate positions, momenta, energies, and other properties. There was an inherent uncertainty to a great many properties that we could measure, and physicists raced to work out the rules.Amidst this frenzy, a young Dutch researcher named George Uhlenbeck implored Paul Ehrenfest, his research supervisor at the University of Leiden, not to submit the paper he wrote with Samuel “Sam” Goudsmit about a new quantum number called spin. It was not correct, Uhlenbeck told him in a frenzy. Let’s just drop it and start over, he implored.Uhlenbeck and Goudsmit, both then in their mid-20s, had just showed their joint result to the great Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz who had found what seemed like a major error. Electrons, he pointed out, couldn’t possibly rotate fast enough to generate the magnetic moment (interaction strength between a particle and ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod