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Q & A: Why is the discovery of W and Z bosons important?

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Most recent answer: 03/14/2015
Q:
the W and Z bosons were first produced at CERN in 1983 (by the collision of a beam of protons and a beam antiprotons at high energy).why was this an important discovery?
- dalia (age 18)
sudan
A:

Hello Dalia,

Just as the electrical force is mediated by exchange of massless photons, it was conjectured that there could be a particle or particles that mediated the weak interactions such as beta decay where neutrinos are involved.  The photon is massless due to symmetry considerations but the W and Z don't have to be and in fact have masses of 80.1 and 91.2  Gev/c2 respectively.   An elegant theory called electro-weak that would unify the electromagnetic photons and the vector bosons of the weak interactions was developed in the late 1960's and a Noble Prize was awarded to Sheldon Lee Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg in 1979.    This unification now goes under the name 'Standard Model'.   So the discovery of the W and Z were important verifications of this theory. 

There are some nice articles on the subject that you might want to look at:    and   .

LeeH

 

 


(published on 03/14/2015)

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