By Gian Francesco Giudice
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Extra resources for A Zeptospace Odyssey, A Journey Into The Physics Of The LHC
The real breakthrough was to show that a gravitational force decreasing with the square of the distance leads to elliptical planetary orbits, with the sun situated at one of the foci. This is exactly the result of Kepler’s law. Therefore the empirical law, derived by Kepler on the basis of astronomical observations, could be deduced from Newton’s theory of gravity. The crucial conceptual step made by Newton was to understand the universal quality of gravitation. The same force that makes apples fall from trees governs planetary motion.
However, only a part of the energy is carried by the electron, while the rest is carried by a new particle – the neutrino – with zero electric charge and zero mass (or at least a mass very much smaller than the proton mass). 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.
Physicists at Berkeley started the construction of the Bevatron, an accelerator that generated a proton beam that could be used to bombard material targets. The proton energy was enormous for those days, but is actually less than a thousandth of the energy of a single LHC beam. In 1955, experiments at the Bevatron, led by Emilio Segrè (1905–1989, Nobel Prize 1959) and Owen Chamberlain (1920–2006, Nobel Prize 1959) discovered the antiproton. The following year it was the antineutron’s turn. Do anti-atoms exist?