meson


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Related to meson: pi meson, B meson

meson

meson (mēˈzŏn) [Gr.,=middle (i.e., middleweight)], class of elementary particles whose masses are generally between those of the lepton class of lighter particles and those of the baryon class of heavier particles. From a technical point of view mesons are strongly interacting bosons; i.e., they participate in the strong nuclear force and are described by the Bose-Einstein statistics, which apply to all particles not covered by the Pauli exclusion principle. The lightest meson is the pion, whose mass is about 270 times that of the electron. Heavier mesons include the kaon (K meson), eta meson, and a number of higher-mass recurrences of the lighter mesons. The heaviest mesons are heavier than some baryons, such as the proton and neutron, but their classification as mesons is based on their behavior rather than on their mass. The existence of mesons was first predicted in 1935 by Hideki Yukawa, who theorized that they could be responsible for the force holding the nucleus of an atom together. In 1936 a particle was discovered by Carl D. Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer that had a mass close to that predicted for the Yukawa particle. However, the behavior of this particle, the muon, did not correspond to that of the theory at all. The muon was subsequently reclassified as a lepton rather than a meson. The particle predicted by Yukawa was the pion, which was not discovered until 1947 by C. F. Powell and coworkers. Both the muon and the pion were first observed in secondary cosmic rays, being produced in the upper atmosphere by collisions between primary cosmic rays and the atoms of the atmosphere. Since then mesons have been produced and observed in large numbers in laboratories where high-energy particle collisions can be achieved with the aid of a particle accelerator. It is now known that each type of meson consists of a quark bound to an antiquark.
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Meson

The generic name for any hadronic particle with baryon number zero. Such particles were first envisaged in 1935 by H. Yukawa, who pointed out that the main features of nuclear forces would be explained if these forces were transmitted between nucleons through an intermediate field coupled with nucleons, provided that its quanta (nuclear force mesons) were massive [200–300 electron masses (me)] and could carry electric charge between the nucleons. See Baryon, Hadron, Nuclear structure, Quantum field theory

All mesons are unstable. Those with relatively long lifetimes are referred to as semistable. Nearly 200 highly unstable mesons are established, with lifetimes shorter than 10-22 s, and more continue to be discovered. These mesons decay to lighter mesons through the strong nuclear (hadronic) interactions, whereas the hadronic decays of the semistable mesons are forbidden or strongly suppressed. Alternative decay modes involve the weak interactions or the electromagnetic interactions, which are much weaker than the strong interactions and therefore lead to much smaller decay rates and longer lifetimes. The longest-lived mesons are those that decay only through the weak interactions; these include the charged &pgr; mesons (pions) and the K mesons (kaons), with lifetimes of about 10-8 to 10-10 s. See Fundamental interactions, Weak nuclear interactions

Hadrons are now considered to be composite, consisting of spin-1/2 quarks (q), corresponding antiquarks (q), and some number of gluons (g), the last being the quanta of the intermediate field which binds the quarks and antiquarks to form hadrons. Baryon number B = + holds for a quark q, B = - for antiquark q, while B = 0 holds for a gluon. In this view, the simplest possibility is that each meson is a quark-antiquark pair bound together by the gluon field, and this model does account quite well for most of the known mesons and their properties. However, more complicated systems (for example, consisting of two quarks with two antiquarks) can be considered and may even be required by some of the present data. The quarks must be assigned fractional charge values, relative to the proton charge. See Gluons, Quarks

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Physics. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meson

 

an unstable elementary particle that belongs to the class of strongly interacting particles (hadrons); in contrast to baryons, mesons have zero baryon charge and have zero or integral spin, that is, mesons are bosons. The term “meson”— from the Greek mesos, meaning “intermediate”—was chosen because the masses of the first mesons that were discovered—the pion (7r-meson) and kaon (π-meson)—have values intermediate between the masses of the proton and electron. (Muons, which originally were called μ-mesons, are not mesons since they have a spin of ½ and do not take part in strong interactions.) Many other mesons with very short lifetimes (called boson resonances) were discovered subsequently, and the mass of most exceeds that of the proton. Mesons are the carriers of nuclear forces. Mesons are created especially intensively during collisions of highenergy hadrons.

Mesons may be neutral or charged (with positive or negative elementary electric charge) and may have zero (for example, pions) and nonzero (for example, kaons) strangeness. Mesons with an isotopic spin of 0, Vi, or 1 form, respectively, isotopic singlets, doublets, and triplets. According to the current classification of elementary particles, mesons with properties that are similar with respect to the processes caused by the strong interaction are combined in groups (“supermultiplets”) that consist of eight, nine, and ten particles.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

meson

[′me‚sän]
(particle physics)
Any elementary (noncomposite) particle with strong nuclear interactions and baryon number equal to zero.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

meson

any of a group of elementary particles, such as a pion or kaon, that usually has a rest mass between those of an electron and a proton, and an integral spin. They are responsible for the force between nucleons in the atomic nucleus
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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