University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Physics and Astronomy Colloquia > Early days in Cosmic Rays

Early days in Cosmic Rays

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Prof Andy Schofield.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s there was a brief “golden era” in cosmic ray physics when Britain led the world – particularly in Bristol and Manchester. As is well known, the discoveries that were made of new elementary particles in cosmic rays – pions, muons and strange-particles – were to kick-start the building of giant accelerators and their associated detection equipment, developments which were to eventually culminate, by the 1970s, in the present “Standard Model” of the fundamental quarks and leptons and their interactions.

What is less well known, and what will be emphasized in the lecture, is how and why the early cosmic ray work started up, and the historical coincidences and accidents which led, directly or indirectly, to its successes. A Cambridge physicist on a Scottish mountain top, a Birmingham scientist on a cross-Atlantic wartime flight, an Essex chemist’s confidence in Argentinian cattle, and other apparently unrelated happenings, all played a part.

This talk is part of the Physics and Astronomy Colloquia series.

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