Author Topic: Proton Decay  (Read 2195 times)

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Offline Eagle

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Proton Decay
« on: April 17, 2010, 07:53:55 pm »
Hey let's have a discussion





This is one of science's current enigmas, do protons decay, yes or no?



According to most generally accepted theories, the answer to this is no. Protons, being a type of baryon, should theoretically be stable, because they have the lowest baryon number, meaning that they are the least energetic of all baryons and thus stable. Their baryon number cannot change and protons can therefor not break down into lighter subatomic particles.

However, some grand unified field theories, like the Georgi-Glashow (which clumps all the standard model gauge groups together in one gauge group and predicts that interactions that do not preserve the baryon number are indeed possible) break this baryonic number symmetry, and state that its possible for even a proton to decay via X and Y bosons, which are bosons analogous to the W and Z bosons (these are the force carriers of the weak force). However, this is pure theory and has not yet been observed experimentally. In the Georgi-Glashow model, the theoretical half-life of a proton is 10^36 years. If a proton decays, it would decay in a positron, which is basically an anti-electron, an electron with a positive charge, and a pion, a subatomic particle composed out of one up and one down quark. This pion would however immediately break down into two gamma ray photons, which are high-energetic, ionizing photons.



The reason this is possible is because it does not break the B-L number (baryon number minus lepton number). Reason for this is because a positron is an antilepton. The reason for this again is that the X and Y bosons couple quarks and leptons together



Copypasted from wikipedia:
Quote
An X boson would have the following decay modes:

    X → u + u
    X → e+ + d

A Y boson would have the following decay modes:

    Y → e+ + u
    Y → d + u
    Y → νe + d

As you can see, because of this, they allowed the violation of the aforementioned conservation of baryon number.



So my question to you, is proton decay possible, or are those that believe it is true crackpots?


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Offline Brandonazz

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2010, 08:12:58 pm »
Maybe this should go in science news?

It doesn't seem worth a new topic.

Offline Eagle

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2010, 08:14:08 pm »
Problem is that it isn't news
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Offline Brandonazz

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 08:20:12 pm »
Then what's the point of this topic?

Offline Eagle

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 08:25:51 pm »
A mix of education and curiosity in scientific opinions.
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Offline sgore

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 08:43:29 pm »
If I may ask, if proton decay were possible, what effect would that have on the overall structure of the atom?
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Offline Uroboros

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2010, 09:16:15 pm »
Problem is that it isn't news
I'm sure we had a "Science" thread, much like the "Religion" thread. It seems we don't.
News or not, that old thread that was pointed out would be the best place for it, methinks.

Offline sgore

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2010, 09:34:00 pm »
I don't know, I see no problem creating a new thread for this. There's a number of other threads buried in the forum with scientific debate, and I don't find much wrong with creating a specific thread to discuss a certain scientific idea or things of that sort. (Else I would have just put my Art Deco thread from a while back under a larger thread called Design Elements...which I must say would have completely muddled the topic I was trying to discuss) Nuanced discussion is the nectar by which forums are fed... or something. I don't know, I don't think I've ever actually had any nectar of sorts. Either way, let us get back to this thing here. It seems interesting although I admit I am certain I could learn more about it.
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Offline Eagle

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2010, 05:23:05 am »
If I may ask, if proton decay were possible, what effect would that have on the overall structure of the atom?
Well, it wouldn't change anything really, considering the bonds that contain the atoms would break down long before protons themselves break down. For example, deuterium would break down into hydrogen and a free neutron and that free neutron would then decay into two gamma rays.

But the point of proton decay is that it would kind of change what would happen at the end of the universe's lifetime.
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Offline Rysworld

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2010, 12:49:41 pm »
Would it be possible for a proton to decay within an atom?

I would assume so, but I don't know a lot about this particular topic.

Offline Eagle

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Re: Proton Decay
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2010, 01:57:05 pm »
Yes. But as I said, it would decay a hell of a lot slower than a free proton.
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