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No. 26: Mar-Apr 1983

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Maybe there's one stable particle!

The new Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) of physics predict that the proton decays radioactively -- contrary to what you may have been taught in physics class. Several experiments in deep mines and tunnels seem to have registered proton decays. Is nothing stable anymore? There is hope. A huge cubical detector, 21 meters on a side, is now operating 2000 feet under Lake Erie in a salt mine. The water-filled cube is monitored by 2048 photomultipler tubes, and is serviced by divers! After 80 days of operation, no events resembling proton decays have been detected, whereas many would have been expected if the other reports were true. The GUTs may be in trouble; and there may be something stable in the universe that we can count on!

(Thomsen, D.E.; "Decay-Resistant Protons in Ohio," Science News, 123:85, 1983.)

Comment. See SF#14 for some of the strange particles detected in the Kolar Gold Fields, in India, where some of the supposed proton decays were reported.

From Science Frontiers #26, MAR-APR 1983. � 1983-2000 William R. Corliss