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Stern–Gerlach experiment


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An experiment demonstrating the space quantization of rotating bodies, first conducted by the German scientists Otto Stern (1888–1969) and Walther Gerlach (1899–1979) in 1921. Their experiment involved passing a beam of silver atoms through an inhomogeneous magnetic field. The purpose of the experiment was to investigate the interaction between a charged rotating body and the field. A charged rotating body acts like a magnet. In classical mechanics the orientation of angular momentum can have any value so that the magnet associated with it can take any orientation. However, in quantum mechanics angular momentum is quantized, which means that the associated magnet can only lie in certain discrete orientations. As expected, sharp bands of atoms are observed, provided that the beam has low intensity. The low intensity reduces the blurring effects caused by collisions between atoms.

Subjects: Chemistry.


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