chapter  11
- Theory of Angular Momentum
Pages 44

A particle moving along a straight-line has a linear momentum mv. A revolving particle has angular momentum due to its mass and angular velocity. In classical mechanics, orbital angular momentum is the vector product of position (r) and linear momentum (p):

L = r× p . (11.1)

Let us imagine the electron as a small ball, revolving about some axis. It possesses angular momentum. Precisely, the angular momentum vector is a vector pointing along the axis of rotation with magnitude proportional to the speed of rotation. A vector which changes sign under space inversion (parity operation) is called a polar vector . r and p are polar vectors as they change sign. Since L = (−r)× (−p), L does not change sign under parity operation. Such vectors which do not change sign under parity operation are called axial vectors or psuedo-vectors. Classically, the angular momentum of the electron could have any magnitude. In quantum mechanics the orbital angular momentum operator is obtained by replacing p by −i~∇. The angular position of a particle is the angle at which it is located in two-dimensional polar coordinates.