In 1924, Walther Bothe and Hans Geiger applied a coincidence method to the study of Compton scattering with Geiger needle counters. Their experiment confirmed the existence of radiation quanta and established the validity of conservation principles in elementary processes. At the end of the 1920s, Bothe and Werner Kolhörster coupled the coincidence technique with the new Geiger–Müller counter to study cosmic rays, marking the start of cosmic-ray research as a branch of physics. The coincidence method was further refined by Bruno Rossi, who developed a vacuum-tube device capable of registering the simultaneous occurrence of electrical pulses from any number of counters with a tenfold improvement in time resolution. The electronic coincidence circuit bearing Rossi’s name was instrumental in his research on the corpuscular nature and the properties of cosmic radiation during the early 1930s, a period characterized by a lively debate between Millikan and followers of the corpuscular interpretation. The Rossi coincidence circuit was also at the core of the counter-controlled cloud chamber developed by Patrick Blackett and Giuseppe Occhialini, and became one of the important ingredients of particle and nuclear physics. During the late 1930s and 1940s, coincidences, anti-coincidences and delayed coincidences played a crucial role in a series of experiments on the decay of the muon, which inaugurated the current era of particle physics.
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PAPERS| November 01 2011
Walther Bothe and Bruno Rossi: The birth and development of coincidence methods in cosmic-ray physics
Luisa Bonolis; Walther Bothe and Bruno Rossi: The birth and development of coincidence methods in cosmic-ray physics. Am. J. Phys. 1 November 2011; 79 (11): 1133–1150. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3619808
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