Publication Date

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy


Kenneth B. Wharton


Classical Analog, Classical Lagrangian, Coupled Oscillators, Electron, Foucault's Pendulum, Spin State

Subject Areas

Quantum physics


Spin has long been regarded as a fundamentally quantum phenomena that is incapable of being described classically. To bridge the gap and show that aspects of spin's quantum nature can be described classically, this work uses a classical Lagrangian based on the coupled oscillations of Foucault's pendulum as an analog for the electron spin state in an external magnetic field. With this analog it is possible to demonstrate that Foucault's pendulum not only serves as a basis for explaining geometric phase, but is also a basis for reproducing a broad range of behavior from Zeeman-like frequency splitting to precession of the spin state. By demonstrating that unmeasured electron spin states can be fully described in classical terms, this research opens the door to using the tools of classical physics to examine an inherently quantum phenomenon.