MadSci Network: Physics

Subject: Electron 'orbital motion' and role in magnetism

Date: Fri Apr 8 11:28:23 2005
Posted by John
Grade level: grad (science) School: No school entered.
City: Dallas State/Province: TX Country: USA
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1112977703.Ph

On the web page for the 
Rare-Earth Magnetics Association, it explains that "Each
electron has magnetic moments that originate from two sources.  The first is the
orbital motion of the electron around the nucleus.  In a sense this motion can
be considered as a current loop, ..."  I thought, "that's not right!" and
searched the web for a better explaination.  It seems that this paragraph is
copied many times over the web, and any other explaination is hard to find.

I read reciently that Einstein himself did an experiment to show that there is
only one kind of magnetism, and reversing the polarity of a perminant magnet
caused a torque.  This was assumed to be orbital motions at the time, but later
proved to be "spin", and this is where spin gets its name.

I found a writeup on that
explains that electrons aren't actually orbiting, but still casually uses the
term "orbital motion"!  I need help getting to the bottom of this.

So, does the not-really-moving quantum "orbital motion" of an electrons in fact
cause current loops?  If the lowest s shell doesn't have "orbital motion", what
defines the electron's spin?  

Re: Electron 'orbital motion' and role in magnetism

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