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Climbing the MountainThe Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger$
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Jagdish Mehra and Kimball Milton

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198527459

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198527459.001.0001

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The world according to Stern and Gerlach

The world according to Stern and Gerlach

Chapter:
(p.337) 10 The world according to Stern and Gerlach
Source:
Climbing the Mountain
Author(s):

JAGDISH MEHRA

KIMBALL A. MILTON

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198527459.003.0010

Julian Schwinger was a master of quantum mechanics from his earliest days. His first, unpublished paper, written at age 16, already showed his control of the entire machinery of relativistic quantum mechanics. Yet it was undoubtedly his contact with Isidor Isaac Rabi at Columbia University in New York that led to his deeper understanding and reformulation of quantum mechanics. Rabi was doing experiments with atomic beams at Columbia in the mid-1930s, and the question was how atomic and nuclear spins interacted with magnetic fields. By about 1950, Schwinger had begun his third reformulation of quantum electrodynamics, or in general, quantum field theory, based on the quantum action principle. Schwinger made the analysis of successive Stern-Gerlach experiments on spin systems the basis of his introduction to quantum mechanics—all the properties of quantum mechanics could be inferred from a few simple experimental facts. This chapter discusses the quantum theory of measurement, angular momentum, potential problems and quantum oscillators, and spin coherence.

Keywords:   quantum mechanics, measurement, angular momentum, quantum oscillators, spin coherence, Stern-Gerlach experiments

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