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Unformatted text preview: Pion Production We have mentioned how, using a synchrocyclotron, it is possible to accelerate protons to relativistic speeds. The rest energy of a proton m p c 2 is 938 MeV, using here the standard high energy physics energy unit: 1 MeV = 10 6 eV. The neutron is a bit heavier m n c 2 = 940 MeV. (The electron is 0.51 MeV). Thus to accelerate a proton to relativistic speeds implies giving it a K.E. of order 1,000 MeV, or 1 GeV. The standard operating procedure of high energy physicists is to accelerate particles to relativistic speeds, then smash them into other particles to see what happens. For example, fast protons will be aimed at protons at rest (hydrogen atoms, in other wordsthe electron can be neglected). These proton-proton collisions take place inside some kind of detection apparatus, so the results can be observed. One widely-used detector is the bubble chamber: a transparent container filled with a superheated liquid. The electric field of a rapidly moving charged particle container filled with a superheated liquid....
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