“The demonstration of space quantization, carried out in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1922 by Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach, ranks among the dozen or so canonical experiments that ushered in the heroic age of quantum physics. Perhaps no other experiment is so often cited for elegant conceptual simplicity. From it emerged both new intellectual vistas and a host of useful applications of quantum science” –Friedrich and Herschbach
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS, journal issue, of the famous Stern-Gerlach experiment that proved the existence of electron spin and space quantization.
By 1920, “Bohr’s theory of the atom had undergone rapid development ... [I]f such an atom were placed in a magnetic field, it should be able to assume only two distinct orientations, with its axis and magnetic moment either parallel or opposed to the direction of the field ... While the first conclusion was at least compatible with the classical theory, the second was not, and very few physicists of that time were inclined to take this spatial quantization seriously. Stern recognized that the molecular-beam method was capable of giving a clear yes-or-no answer to this question: If the classical theory were correct, a narrow beam of silver atoms should be broadened when passing through a nonhomogeneous magnetic field; but if the spatial quantization theory were correct, the beam should be split into two separate beams. In 1920 this experiment, although simple in concept, was difficult to perform. Not particularly skillful in handling experimental techniques (as opposed to designing experiments), Stern asked Walther Gerlach, a colleague at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Frankfurt, to join in this work. Together they succeeded in proving the reality of space quantization and in measuring the magnetic moment of the silver atom” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). (This measurement is reported in a second paper by Stern and Gerlach, "Das magnetische Moment des Silberatoms", immediately following the first paper in this same issue.
“Descendants of the Stern-Gerlach experiment (SGE) and its key concept of sorting quantum states via space quantization are legion. Among them are the prototypes for nuclear magnetic resonance, optical pumping, the laser, and atomic clocks, as well as incisive discoveries such as the Lamb shift and the anomalous increment in the magnetic moment of the electron, which launched quantum electrodynamics. The means to probe nuclei, proteins, and galaxies; image bodies and brains; perform eye surgery; read music or data from compact disks; and scan bar codes on grocery packages or DNA base pairs in the human genome all stem from exploiting transitions between space-quantized quantum states” (Friedrich and Herschbach, “Stern and Gerlach”).
In: Zeitschrift für Physik, Band 9, Heft 6. Braunschweig: Friedr. Vieweg & Berlin: Julius Springer, 1922. Octavo, original wrappers; beautiful half-leather custom box by book artist Sjoerd Hofstra, Small paper split at base of joint (everything holding), small tear to margin of one leaf (not affecting text). RARE, particularly in such outstanding condition in original wrappers.
Price: $4,500 .