Shifting Standards: Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century

Shifting Standards: Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century

by Allan Franklin

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Overview

In Shifting Standards, Allan Franklin provides an overview of notable experiments in particle physics. Using papers published in Physical Review, the journal of the American Physical Society, as his basis, Franklin details the experiments themselves, their data collection, the events witnessed, and the interpretation of results. From these papers, he distills the dramatic changes to particle physics experimentation from 1894 through 2009.

Franklin develops a framework for his analysis, viewing each example according to exclusion and selection of data; possible experimenter bias; details of the experimental apparatus; size of the data set, apparatus, and number of authors; rates of data taking along with analysis and reduction; distinction between ideal and actual experiments; historical accounts of previous experiments; and personal comments and style.

From Millikan’s tabletop oil-drop experiment to the Compact Muon Solenoid apparatus measuring approximately 4,000 cubic meters (not including accelerators) and employing over 2,000 authors, Franklin’s study follows the decade-by-decade evolution of scale and standards in particle physics experimentation. As he shows, where once there were only one or two collaborators, now it literally takes a village. Similar changes are seen in data collection: in 1909 Millikan’s data set took 175 oil drops, of which he used 23 to determine the value of e, the charge of the electron; in contrast, the 1988–1992 E791 experiment using the Collider Detector at Fermilab, investigating the hadroproduction of charm quarks, recorded 20 billion events. As we also see, data collection took a quantum leap in the 1950s with the use of computers. Events are now recorded at rates as of a few hundred per second, and analysis rates have progressed similarly.

Employing his epistemology of experimentation, Franklin deconstructs each example to view the arguments offered and the correctness of the results. Overall, he finds that despite the metamorphosis of the process, the role of experimentation has remained remarkably consistent through the years: to test theories and provide factual basis for scientific knowledge, to encourage new theories, and to reveal new phenomenon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822979197
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 12/20/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 16 MB
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About the Author

Allan Franklin is professor of physics at the University of Colorado. He is the author of numerous books, including Are There Really Neutrinos? An Evidential History; Selectivity and Discord: Two Problems of Experiment; and No Easy Answers: Science and the Pursuit of Knowledge. He is also coauthor of Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy.

Table of Contents

Contents Preface Prologue: The Rise of the Sigmas Introduction Chapter 1. “Some Measurements of the Temperature Variation in the Electrical Resistance of a Sample of Copper” Chapter 2. “Do Falling Bodies Move South?” Chapter 3. “The Isolation of an Ion, a Precision Measurement of Its Charge, and the Correction of Stokes’s Law” Chapter 4. “Directed Quanta of Scattered X-rays” Chapter 5. “A Determination of e/m for an Electron by a New Deflection Method” Chapter 6. An Uncertain Interlude Chapter 7. “Electron Polarization” Chapter 8. “Mean Lifetime of V-Particles and Heavy Mesons” Chapter 9. “Detection of the Free Antineutrino” Chapter 10. “Measurement of the Ke2 + Branching Ratio” Chapter 11. “Determination of Kl3 Form Factors from Measurements of Decay Correlations and Muon Polarizations” Chapter 12. Bad Data: An Interlude Chapter 13. “Measurement of the Antineutron-Proton Cross Section at Low Energy” Chapter 14. “New Measurements of Properties of the Ω− Hyperon” Chapter 15. The Coherent Scattering of Neutrinos Chapter 16. “Search for Neutral Weakly Interacting Massive Particles in the Fermilab Tevatron Wideband Neutrino Beam” 184 Chapter 17. “Measurement of the B+ Total Cross Section and B+ Differential Cross Section dσ/dpT in p ¯p Collisions at √s = 1.8 TeV” Chapter 18. “B Meson Decays to Charmless Meson Pairs Containing η or η’ Mesons” Chapter 19. The Case of the Disappearing Sigmas Conclusion Notes References Index

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