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ERIC Number: EJ926896
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Teaching Elementary Particle Physics, Part II
Hobson, Art
Physics Teacher, v49 n3 p136-139 Mar 2011
In order to explain certain features of radioactive beta decay, Wolfgang Pauli suggested in 1930 that the nucleus emitted, in addition to a beta particle, another particle of an entirely new type. The hypothesized particle, dubbed the neutrino, would not be discovered experimentally for another 25 years. It's not easy to detect neutrinos, because they respond to neither the EM force nor the strong force. For example, the mean free path (average penetration distance before it interacts) of a typical beta-decay neutrino moving through solid lead is about 1.5 light years! Enrico Fermi argued that neutrinos indicated a new force was at work. During the 1930s, he quickly adapted ideas from the developing new theory of QED to this new force, dubbed the weak force. Fermi's theory was able to predict the half-lives of beta-emitting nuclei and the range of energies of the emitted beta particles. [For Part 1, see EJ913070.]
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A