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The Age of InnocenceNuclear Physics between the First and Second World Wars$
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Roger H. Stuewer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198827870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198827870.001.0001

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Nuclear Electrons and Nuclear Structure

Nuclear Electrons and Nuclear Structure

(p.114) 6 Nuclear Electrons and Nuclear Structure
The Age of Innocence

Roger H. Stuewer

Oxford University Press

Serious contradictions to the existence of electrons in nuclei impinged in one way or another on the theory of beta decay and became acute when Charles Ellis and William Wooster proved, in an experimental tour de force in 1927, that beta particles are emitted from a radioactive nucleus with a continuous distribution of energies. Bohr concluded that energy is not conserved in the nucleus, an idea that Wolfgang Pauli vigorously opposed. Another puzzle arose in alpha-particle experiments. Walther Bothe and his co-workers used his coincidence method in 1928–30 and concluded that energetic gamma rays are produced when polonium alpha particles bombard beryllium and other light nuclei. That stimulated Frédéric Joliot and Irène Curie to carry out related experiments. These experimental results were thoroughly discussed at a conference that Enrico Fermi organized in Rome in October 1931, whose proceedings included the first publication of Pauli’s neutrino hypothesis.

Keywords:   nuclear electrons, Ellis–Wooster experiment, continuous beta-energy spectrum, conservation of energy, coincidence method, alpha-particle experiments, Institut du Radium, 1931 Rome conference, Pauli neutrino hypothesis

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