Norman F. Ramsey

in Molecular Beams

Published in print January 1986 | ISBN: 9780198520214
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191706325 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classic Texts in the Physical Sciences


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Atomic fine structure is the separation of atomic energy levels due to the interaction of the electron spin with atomic fields at the electron. This structure was discovered in optical spectra long before magnetic resonance, but the greater accuracy of resonance measurements have led to the discovery of new phenomena. The Lamb-Retherford atomic beam experiment with atomic hydrogen showed that, contrary to previous theories, the 22S1/2 state was not degenerate with the 22P1/2 state. This Lamb shift, S, was theoretically explained in terms of quantum electrodynamics (QED) as essentially due to the interaction of the electron magnetic moment with zero point oscillations of the QED fields. A full QED theory was soon developed.

Keywords: fine structure; spin; atomic fields; Lamb-Retherford experiment; Lamb shift; QED

Chapter.  7098 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

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