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Spins Lab 1

Keywords: quantum measurement, spin, testing experiment


Highlights of the activity

  1. Stern-Gerlach experiment
  2. Randomness of quantum measurement
  3. Orthogonality of basis kets
  4. Observing and testing patterns in data
  5. Review of basic statistics

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

This lab is an introduction to successive Stern-Gerlach spin 1/2 measurements. The randomness of measurements is demonstrated and students use statistical analysis to deduce probabilities from measurements. The results demonstrate the orthonormality of the Sz basis kets and are used to deduce the Sx and Sy basis kets in terms of the Sz kets.

This lab has been edited in 2010 to emphasize having students observe patterns in the data, drawing a conclusion based on those observations, then testing that conclusion with more experimentation. When grading the lab write-ups, instructors should look for sense-making in the reasoning they state for drawing conclusions, and a good effort at testing those conclusions for themselves. This emphasize will minimize students simply turning in 0, 1 and 1/2 as answers to the majority of the lab activities, without clearly showing their understanding.

The 2010 version of the lab is here.


Instructor's Guide


Student Handouts



Authors: David H. McIntyre
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