Summary #200

How long do neutrons live? Physicists close in on decades-old puzzle

nature.com
  • After 15 years of struggling with a measurement discrepancy, physicists might soon uncover precisely how long it takes a neutron to die.
  • Neutrons are stable inside atoms, but on their own they decay in about 15 minutes. Since 2005, there have been two measuring methods which - replicated in various labs across the world - generate results different by 8 seconds.
  • Solving this mystery will help scientists understand how much hydrogen, helium, and other light elements were created in the first few minutes after the Big Bang.
  • They could also hunt for new types of physics, as knowing the neutron’s lifetime would help constrain measurements of other subatomic particles.

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