I've seen conflicting statements about whether the Stern-Gerlach experiment involved an oven to evaporate a sample of silver or a filament, perhaps a filament made of silver. Is it possible that the latter is the truth, but the former is discussed in pedagogical treatments because we often think of thermodynamic concepts like blackbody radiation in terms of thought experiments involving ovens?

I unfortunately haven't had any luck finding such details from the primary sources, both because I can't access all the original papers (there were more than one) and because I don't read German.

  • $\begingroup$ Is it a wave, or a particle? Is it an oven, or a filament? This is the oven-filament duality of course! :-) $\endgroup$
    – Francesco
    Jul 1 '17 at 4:40

The following diagram of the original setup is from Stern's private slide collection and was included in Stern and Gerlach's 1924 paper Über die Richtungsquantelung im Magnetfeld. Annalen der Physik, 74:673–699.

It shows an oven which is heated by a filament.

This image comes from page 12 of arXiv paper The Stern-Gerlach Experiment Revisited by Schmidt-Böcking, et al.

SGE setup


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