Registered: Feb 2012
Handedness of particles, radioactive decay, and electron tunneling
What follows is short explanation how handedness of particles, radioactive decay, and electron tunneling fit the framework of my February 21 posting. (It’s a composite of some emails I have sent recently.)
In an electric generator, current is produced in a conductor that is moving relative to an external magnetic field. This is how I think it happens: Photons coupled to electrons are aligned by the magnetic field so that their electric field components all point in the same direction, causing the current to flow. That is, all photons have the same handedness. In the electron-positron pair production, two gamma rays collide. One becomes an electron, retaining its handedness. The other one becomes a positron. In the process, the magnetic fields of the two gamma rays join while the electric field of one flips inwards. (I visualized this to myself by imagining pushing the one-dimensional electric field pointer inwards through the “pole”, until its tip touches the pole.) In other words: the electric field is now moved 180 degrees, to the opposite side of the magnetic field. The handedness has changed. If another gamma ray annihilates the positron, the electric field is flipped outwards again. However, a spin-preserving electron antineutrino is also created that retains the handedness of the positron. This is why all electron neutrinos have the same handedness and all electron antineutrinos have the opposite handedness.
In electron capture, a proton reacts with an electron to produce a neutron and an electron neutrino. Interpretation: an electron (charge –1) reacts with an up quark (+2/3) to produce a down quark (-1/3). A spin-preserving electron neutrino is produced.
In beta decay, a neutron becomes a proton, an electron, and an electron antineutrino. Assumption: this is caused by the electron antineutrino. Interpretation: The electron antineutrino increases the spin of a down quark. A photon is released, and what remains becomes an up quark. But a photon should have spinning magnetic and electric field components. Because photons and electrons have one handedness and electron antineutrinos have the opposite, the particle splits apart. It becomes an electron and an electron antineutrino.
In inverse beta decay, a proton becomes a neutron, a positron, and an electron neutrino. Assumption: this is caused by the electron neutrino. Interpretation: The electron neutrino increases the spin of an up quark. An antiphoton (a photon with an inwards electric field) is released, and what remains becomes a down quark. The antiphoton has one handedness and the electron neutrino has the other. The antiphoton becomes a positron, and the electron neutrino is re-released.
I think that the mechanism involving handedness can be applied to high-energy physics as well. In inelastic neutrino scattering, a down quark becomes an up quark and a W boson (W-). W- then decays to an electron and an electron antineutrino. This is like the beta decay interpretation above, only with a W- instead of a photon. In elastic scattering, a photon-like particle (Z boson) is formed. This hints that the neutrino involved shares the handedness with the released particle. So instead of transferring momentum in scattering, neutrinos would have a spin-increasing effect.
Electron neutrinos seem to interact with up quarks (charge +2/3) while electron antineutrinos interact with down quarks (charge –1/3). Why? It appears that when created, the neutrinos retain not only the handedness of the annihilated particle, but the direction of the electric field as well. Therefore, electron antineutrinos should interact with electrons also. The neutrino would increase the electron’s spin, turning it into a photon. Very shortly, the particle breaks up due to mismatched handedness. Could this perhaps explain electron tunneling, where an electron vanishes in one place and reappears in another?
Electrons appearing or disappearing suddenly affects chemical bonds between atoms. All this may be an essential part of reaction kinetics, where bonds are continuously formed and broken. Decomposing chemical compounds have half-lives (typically of order 0, 1, or 2), like radioisotopes (of order 1). Although the relationship is more complicated, it would be interesting to know if any decay rate variations showed up in monthly measurements.
A final thought: Heavy metals have higher electron-densities than other elements. That some electrons reappear just outside the metal surface could partly explain why heavy metals are good catalysts for redox reactions (where electron transfer is important).
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