Unwanted and non-existent particles
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 16-19
Isidor Rabi won the 1944 Nobel Prize for his work on the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei. However, the apparently anomalous nature of the muon, a heavier but otherwise indistinguishable version of the electron, caused Rabi to remark: “Who ordered that?”
Leon Lederman is an American physicist who contributed to the discovery of the muon neutrino and the bottom quark. In 1975, Lederman’s team at Fermilab noted an apparent peak in data produced from collisions between protons and a stationary beryllium target. The peak was taken to indicate the existence of a new 6 GeV particle (possibly a proposed bottom-anti-bottom quark bound state). The particle was given the label upsilon. After subsequent analysis it turned out the particle did not exist, and it was renamed the ‘Oops-Leon’ particle as a gesture to its original symbol and its discoverer.