By Gian Francesco Giudice
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Extra info for A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC
In all other forms of radioactivity, the energy carried by the radiation was equal to the energy lost by the nucleus. This is fairly intuitive. When you go shopping, the money that you have spent (energy carried out by radiation) must be equal to the money that has disappeared from your wallet (energy lost by the nucleus). It could not be otherwise. Nonetheless, for beta radioactivity it was indeed otherwise. Many experiments, culminating with the measurements made by Charles Ellis (1895–1980) and William Wooster (1903–1984) at the Cavendish Laboratory in 1927, showed that beta radiation emitted from nuclei was carrying variable amounts of energy.
Einstein’s general relativity implies a deep revision of fundamental concepts, such as space, time, force and gravitation. In my view, it is the most elegant and captivating scientific theory ever proposed. But general relativity is not just a reformulation of Newton’s theory. It predicted new effects – like the anomalous precession of Mercury’s perihelion and the bending of light by mass – that have been spectacularly confirmed by observations. General relativity is, at least until the next conceptual revolution occurs, the accepted theory of gravity.
This particle is completely invisible to experimental detectors, because it is nearly insensitive to electromagnetic force. Thus, according to Pauli, experiments measure only part of the actual energy produced by beta radioactivity. This explains the strange experimental observations on the electron energy in beta radiation. We can rephrase Pauli’s explanation with the help of the analogy used previously. All shots fired by a gun have the same energy. Suppose however that the gun does not shoot just one single bullet each time, but two bullets together.