Lassila, Kenneth E. Department of Physics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
- Some important numbers
- Determination of numbers
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The quantities, usually discrete with integer or half-integer values, which are needed to characterize a physical system of one or more atomic or subatomic particles. Specification of the set of quantum numbers serves to define such a system or, in other words, to label the possible states the system may have. In general, quantum numbers are obtained from conserved quantities determinable by performing symmetry transformations consisting of arbitrary variations of the system which leave the system unchanged. For example, since the behavior of a set of particles should be independent of the location of the origin in space and time (that is, the symmetry operation is translation in spacetime), it follows that momentum and energy are rigorously conserved. In similar fashion, the invariance of the system to arbitrary rotations of the three axes defining three-dimensional space leads to conservation of total angular momentum. Inversion of these three axes through their origin is likewise a symmetry operation and leads to conservation of parity. (Parity is not conserved in weak interactions and cannot be used as a quantum number to specify the state of a set of particles undergoing such interactions. For such a case, parity is not a “good” quantum number.) For a list of invariance or symmetry operations and the corresponding conserved quantities See also: Symmetry laws (physics)
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information