New York: American Institute of Physics, 1975. 1st Edition. BOUND FIRST EDITION OF THE DISCOVERY OF A NEW ELEMENTARY PARTICLE, THE TAU LEPTON (also known as the tau particle, or tauon). In 1995, the American physicist Martin Perl was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery.
“In 1947, when a particle discovered earlier in cosmic rays – the muon – was identified to be identical to an electron but about 200 times heavier, Perl’s research supervisor, Rabi, had famously exclaimed: “Who ordered that?” Perl became fascinated by this enigmatic particle, and so began his lifelong quest to answer Rabi’s question. In particular, he wondered if there is just one muon, or whether there could be still heavier examples. He believed that if he could find a yet heavier form of the electron, it might help to resolve the muon’s role in nature” (The Guardian, Obituary, 2014).
What Perl discovered was the tau, an elementary particle similar to the electron, but is 3,500 times heavier than the electron and survives less than a trillionth of a second (whereas the electron is stable) and carries a negative electric charge and a spin of .5. “Together with the electron, the muon, and the three neutrinos, it is a lepton. Like all elementary particles with half-integral spin, the tau has a corresponding antiparticle of opposite charge but equal mass and spin, which in the tau’s case is the antitau” (Wikipedia).
Perl would later write that “the discovery of the tau lepton and the third generation of fermions came from the convergence of three physics streams in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. These streams were: the failed attempts by myself and others to understand the connection between the electron and the muon, the development of electron-positron storage rings, and the development of the theory of sequential leptons” (Perl, The Discovery of the Tau Lepton, SLAC, September 1992). Item #741
CONDITION & DETAILS: Full volume (continuously paginated with pp. 977-1808). Quarto (10.25 x 7.50 inches; 256 x 188mm). Tightly and cleanly bound in green buckram. Embossed (uninked) stamp from Mt. Wilson Observatory on a front free end paper. Bright and very clean throughout. Near fine.