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The challenge of neutrinos

Abstract

Neutrinos'', Maurice Goldhaber once remarked, ''are remarkable particles: they induce courage in theoreticians and perseverance in experimenters''. They are also no strangers to controversy, for they were in a sense born amidst it, and as recent work on neutrino oscillations demonstrates they continue to fuel debate. This is of course largely to do with the fact that neutrinos have no electric charge and experience only the weak nuclear force, making them supremely difficult to detect. The debates surrounding neutrinos began in the first decades of the 20th century, before the particle had even been thought of. Studies pioneered by Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn suggested that the electrons emitted in beta-decay emerged with discrete energies. In these experiments a spectrometer bent the electrons according to their energy, and a photographic plate detected the electrons emerging through a movable slit, so yielding ''lines'' at various energies. But when James Chadwick used a point counter instead of a photographic plate, he could not find ''the ghost of a line''. Instead, he convinced himself that the energy of the beta-decay electrons varies continuously up to a maximum, with peaks (''lines'') at only a few energies. And he was able to explain how the  More>>
Publication Date:
Sep 15, 1995
Product Type:
Journal Article
Report Number:
INIS-XC-16A0229
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: CERN Courier; Journal Volume: 35; Journal Issue: 6; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Subject:
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; BETA DECAY; ELECTRONS; NEUTRINO OSCILLATION; NEUTRINOS; NUCLEAR FORCES; PHOTOGRAPHY; SPECTROMETERS
OSTI ID:
22556078
Country of Origin:
CERN
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
Journal ID: ISSN 0304-288X; CODEN: CECOA2; TRN: XC16A0229127237
Availability:
Available on-line: http://cds.cern.ch/record/1732443/files/vol35-issue6-p036-e.pdf
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
page(s) 36-39
Announcement Date:
Jan 07, 2017

Citation Formats

Sutton, Christine. The challenge of neutrinos. CERN: N. p., 1995. Web.
Sutton, Christine. The challenge of neutrinos. CERN.
Sutton, Christine. 1995. "The challenge of neutrinos." CERN.
@misc{etde_22556078,
title = {The challenge of neutrinos}
author = {Sutton, Christine}
abstractNote = {Neutrinos'', Maurice Goldhaber once remarked, ''are remarkable particles: they induce courage in theoreticians and perseverance in experimenters''. They are also no strangers to controversy, for they were in a sense born amidst it, and as recent work on neutrino oscillations demonstrates they continue to fuel debate. This is of course largely to do with the fact that neutrinos have no electric charge and experience only the weak nuclear force, making them supremely difficult to detect. The debates surrounding neutrinos began in the first decades of the 20th century, before the particle had even been thought of. Studies pioneered by Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn suggested that the electrons emitted in beta-decay emerged with discrete energies. In these experiments a spectrometer bent the electrons according to their energy, and a photographic plate detected the electrons emerging through a movable slit, so yielding ''lines'' at various energies. But when James Chadwick used a point counter instead of a photographic plate, he could not find ''the ghost of a line''. Instead, he convinced himself that the energy of the beta-decay electrons varies continuously up to a maximum, with peaks (''lines'') at only a few energies. And he was able to explain how the photographic technique could ''fake'' lines through its great sensitivity to small changes in intensity. The First World War interrupted these investigations, but afterwards arguments between a continuous energy spectrum and discrete lines continued until 1927, when Charles Drummond Ellis and William Wooster at Cambridge published results from a definitive experiment in which they measured the total electron energy in a single decay process. If the electrons always started out with the same energy but lost varying amounts in subsidiary processes to give many lines, as Meitner believed, then the result would equal the maximum at the end of the spectrum.}
journal = {CERN Courier}
issue = {6}
volume = {35}
journal type = {AC}
place = {CERN}
year = {1995}
month = {Sep}
}