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A Search for Fractionally Charged Particles in Cosmic Rays and a Theoretical Interpretation of the Results


Orth, Charles Douglas (1970) A Search for Fractionally Charged Particles in Cosmic Rays and a Theoretical Interpretation of the Results. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/CEME-PW26.


An array of two spark chambers and six trays of plastic scintillation counters was used to search for unaccompanied fractionally charged particles in cosmic rays near sea level. No acceptable events were found with energy losses by ionization between 0.04 and 0.7 that of unit-charged minimum-ionizing particles. New 90%-confidence upper limits were thereby established for the fluxes of fractionally charged particles in cosmic rays, namely, (1.04 ± 0.07)x10-10 and (2.03 ± 0.16)x10-10 cm-2sr-1sec-1 for minimum-ionizing particles with charges 1/3 and 2/3, respectively.

In order to be certain that the spark chambers could have functioned for the low levels of ionization expected from particles with small fractional charges, tests were conducted to estimate the efficiency of the chambers as they had been used in this experiment. These tests showed that the spark-chamber system with the track-selection criteria used might have been over 99% efficient for the entire range of energy losses considered.

Lower limits were then obtained for the mass of a quark by considering the above flux limits and a particular model for the production of quarks in cosmic rays. In this model, which is one involving the multi-peripheral Regge hypothesis, the production cross section and a corresponding mass limit are critically dependent on the Regge trajectory assigned to a quark. If quarks are "elementary'' with a flat trajectory, the mass of a quark can be expected to be at least 6 ± 2 BeV/c2. If quarks have a trajectory with unit slope, just as the existing hadrons do, the mass of a quark might be as small as 1.3 ± 0.2 BeV/c2. For a trajectory with unit slope and a mass larger than a couple of BeV/c2, the production cross section may be so low that quarks might never be observed in nature.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Physics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Zweig, George (co-advisor)
  • Gomez, Ricardo (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:2 December 1969
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08112015-084343168
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9093
Deposited By: Bianca Rios
Deposited On:11 Aug 2015 16:16
Last Modified:17 May 2024 21:04

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