Speaker: Geoff Greene
University of Tennessee
Title: The Life and Death of the Free Neutron
Abstract: The decay of the free neutron is the simplest example of nuclear beta decay and, as such, is the archetype for a wide variety of Weak Interaction processes. These include radioactivity, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, and energy production in the sun. Additionally, The precise value of the free neutron lifetime, can, along with other data, be used to test the consistency of the Standard Model. Remarkably, the value of neutron lifetime can also help determine the atmospheric composition of Venus. Given the breadth of physics involved, it is disconcerting to note that, at present, measurements of the neutron lifetime by different methods are inconsistent. In this talk, I will discuss the physics of neutron decay and will review the strategies for the experimental determination of the neutron lifetime. I will discuss some of the experimental challenges and will attempt to provide some illumination of the current discrepant situation.