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Uhlenbeck, George Eugene

atoms silver quantum electrons

[ u lenbek] (1900–88) Dutch–US physicist: discovered that electrons possess spin.

Uhlenbeck emigrated to the USA once he had completed his PhD at Leiden (1927), and worked at the University of Michigan (1927–60), where he became professor of theoretical physics in 1939. From 1960–74 he held a post at the Rockefeller Medical Research Center in New York.

In 1925 Uhlenbeck and collaborated on an experiment whereby a horizontal beam of silver atoms was split by a vertical magnetic field into two components. This occurred because the electrons in the silver atoms possess ‘spin’, the name arbitrarily given to their property of having half a quantum unit of momentum directed either up or down in the applied magnetic field. The result was that the silver atoms were deflected according to their spin. This was the first observation of this purely quantum mechanical effect, and was an early piece of evidence that the new quantum mechanics was both necessary and correct.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher (1938–) - Colonial U.S. History, Biography [next] [back] Ucla Rebellion, The

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