The beta decay process: a neutron decays into a proton and an electron
(beta radiation) with the emission of a anti-neutrino
Contemporary Physics Education Project
A movie of the beta decay process (467K MPEG) Movie courtesy of University of Oregon
The existence of the "neutrino"
was proposed by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930 as a possible
explanation for what was at the time an unresolved problem in nuclear physics:
the process of "beta decay".
By studying momentum and energy conservation in beta decay, Pauli
proposed that a third particle was needed for momentum and
energy to be conserved. This particle had to be electrically neutral.
Enrico Fermi called this particle "neutrino" which in Italian means
"little neutral one".
Neutrinos have little interaction with matter and are difficult
In 1956 physicists Reines and Cowan eventually found evidence of neutrino
interactions originating in a nuclear reactor.
Fred Reines was a co-winner of the Noble Prize in physics in 1995.
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