On the Theory of Meson Decay

H. A. Bethe and L. W. Nordheim
Phys. Rev. 57, 998 – Published 1 June 1940
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A new derivation of the meson lifetime and of the β-decay formula according to Yukawa's theory is given in which the meson field equations are used in their unquantized form. The vectorial meson theory leads to a Fermi β-decay theory with the Gamow-Teller selection rules as required by experiment. It is, however, not possible to obtain a quantitative agreement for both meson decay and β-decay. When the constants are so adjusted as to give the observed lifetime for β-decay, the resulting lifetime of the meson is of the order 108 sec., as compared with about 106 sec. from cosmic-ray observations. It is shown that the uncertainties in nuclear theory do not greatly influence this result, and that most of the conceivable changes in the theory make the theoretical lifetime of the meson shorter and thus the discrepancy greater.

  • Received 1 April 1940


©1940 American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

H. A. Bethe

  • Department of Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

L. W. Nordheim

  • Department of Physics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

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Vol. 57, Iss. 11 — June 1940

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