Although the neutron was discovered in 1932, its lifetime wasn't measured until 18 years later, when nuclear reactors became available. Obtaining a precise measurement was a tough experimental challenge back then. John Robson was the first to report such a measurement—at the Chalk River reactor in Canada. Fifty years later, improving the precision is still challenging experimenters.
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April 01 2000
Ultracold Neutrons are Magnetically Trapped at NIST
Despite its ubiquity, the neutron still resists precise measurement of its lifetime. More precision would allow tests of Big Bang nucleosynthesis and theories beyond the Standard Model.
Physics Today 53 (4), 19–20 (2000);
Gloria B. Lubkin; Ultracold Neutrons are Magnetically Trapped at NIST. Physics Today 1 April 2000; 53 (4): 19–20. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.883031
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