TY - JOUR
T1 - Quantum mechanics of many-electron systems
JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A
JO - Proc R Soc Lond A Math Phys Sci
SP - 714
LP - 733
M3 - 10.1098/rspa.1929.0094
VL - 123
IS - 792
AU -
Y1 - 1929/04/06
UR - http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/123/792/714.abstract
N2 - The general theory of quantum mechanics is now almost complete, the imperfections that still remain being in connection with the exact fitting in of the theory with relativity ideas. These give rise to difficulties only when high-speed particles are involved, and are therefore of no importance in the consideration of atomic and molecular structure and ordinary chemical reactions, in which it is, indeed, usually sufficiently accurate if one neglects relativity variation of mass with velocity and assumes only Coulomb forces between the various electrons and atomic nuclei. The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble. It there fore becomes desirable that approximate practical methods of applying quantum mechanics should be developed, which can lead to an explanation of the main features of complex atomic systems without too much computation. Already before the arrival of quantum mechanics there existed a theory of atomic structure, based on Bohr’s ideas of quantised orbits, which was fairly successful in a wide field. To get agreement with experiment it was found necessary to introduce the spin of the electron, giving a doubling in the number of orbits of an electron in an atom. With the help of this spin and Pauli’s exclusion principle, a satisfactory theory of multiplet terms was obtained when one made the additional assumption that the electrons in an atom all set themselves with their spins parallel or antiparallel. If s denoted the magnitude of the resultant spin angular momentum, this s was combined vectorially with the resultant orbital angular momentum l to give a multiplet of multiplicity 2s + 1. The fact that one had to make this additional assumption was, however, a serious disadvantage, as no theoretical reasons to support it could be given. It seemed to show that there were large forces coupling the spin vectors of the electrons in an atom, much larger forces than could be accounted for as due to the interaction of the magnetic moments of the electrons. The position was thus that there was empirical evidence in favour of these large forces, but that their theoretical nature was quite unknown.
ER -