An instructional laboratory experiment to measure the muon mass is described. Using coincidence-anticoincidence detection, the decay of a cosmic-ray muon into an electron (or positron) is observed in a multiplate spark chamber, and recorded with a triggered CCD detector. The energy of the charged decay-product particle is quantified by counting the number of spark gaps it traverses before being stopped by the chamber’s aluminum plates. By running this apparatus under computer control for several hours, the number of product particles with various -values is obtained. The muon mass is obtained by a least-squares fit of the experimentally observed to simulation values predicted for this distribution by the Fermi description of muon decay via the weak interaction. We present our results for the muon mass and discuss the simulation we developed to account for the observed skewing of due to the various directions the spark-producing product particles move as well as the escape of some of the higher-energy particles from the chamber.
Skip Nav Destination
PAPERS| January 01 2010
Determining the muon mass in an instructional laboratory
Benjamin Brau, Christopher May, Robert Ormond, John Essick; Determining the muon mass in an instructional laboratory. Am. J. Phys. 1 January 2010; 78 (1): 64–70. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3230034
Download citation file: