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Electrons spining

  1. Oct 21, 2009 #1

    Before reading about how the magnets create magnetic fields, I did know that electrons in the atom structures are in pairs!! And they move at opposite orbits! Can somebody explain it to me?
    I seem to know that electrons in the last orbit are spinning randomly, if so then please tell me how they are able to cause the other orbits to spin in opposite directions?

    Thanks a bunch
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2009 #2
    "Spin" has a very specific meaning in this case, it is nothing to do with their motion in the atom, it is an internal property of the electron.

    Within the atom there are only certain ways the electron can orbit- at certain discrete heights, for example (the n quantum number must be 1,2,3,...), so if you think of these allowable orbits as "holes" which the electrons will fit into, you can get a decent idea of the quantum model of the atom. The plot thickens when Pauli's exclusion principle essentially states that no two fermions can exist in the same quantum state in a system. This means that no two electrons can be in the same "hole", ie., have exactly the same quantum numbers.

    The "spin" of an electron has nothing to do with its motion in the atom- it is an internal property of the electron. But it does count as a quantum number, either +1/2 or -1/2 for the electron. This means that in the bottom "hole" of the atom, 1s, TWO electrons can fit in because they can have opposite spins, and therefore, distinct sets of quantum numbers, even though everything else is the same.
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