The Rise and Fall of Emil Konopinski's Theory of β Decay

Allan Franklin

in Scientific Values and Civic Virtues

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780195172256
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835546 | DOI:
  The Rise and Fall of Emil Konopinski's Theory of β Decay

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In 1934, Enrico Fermi proposed a theory of beta decay. Although it was supported by existing experimental evidence, a more detailed examination revealed discrepancies. Emil Konopinski and George Uhlenbeck proposed an alternative theory that better fit the results and was accepted by the physics community. It was later realized that both the experimental results and the experiment-theory comparison were incorrect. When both problems were corrected, in part by the work of Konopinski and Uhlenbeck themselves, Fermi’s theory was supported. As Konopinski publicly stated in a 1943 review article, “Thus, the evidence of the spectra, which has previously comprised the sole support for the K-U theory, now definitely fails to support it”.

Keywords: physics; beta decay; Emil Konopinski; George Uhlenbeck; Enrico Fermi

Chapter.  5543 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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