JHU Abstract 2014-Measuring Average Muon Decay Time Using Cosmic Ray Detector

Measuring Average Muon Decay Time Using Cosmic Ray Detector

Luke Bender (Towson High School), Adam Der (Hereford High School), Shaina Furman (Towson High School), Michael Mistretta (Hereford High School), Jeremy Smith (Hereford High School), Tyler Bradley (Towson High School), Dr. Morris Swartz (Johns Hopkins University)


Our goal was to determine the lifetime of a muon. A muon decays into an electron and two neutrinos. When the muon is stopped in the cosmic ray muon detector the detector looks for two flashes the first being the muon being stopped and the second a pulse from the emission of an electron. The time for a muon to decay has been found to be about 2.2 microseconds. We attempted to get our data as close to this number as possible. We hoped that as the amount of data increased the closer our calculated lifetime would come to this number. We ran the detector for 5 weeks, running it for 24-hour periods starting at 9am. When our data was first collected we calculated the lifetime based on our results to be about 2.6 microseconds. Toward the end of our collection our calculated result had decreased to 2.4 microseconds. The more data we collected the more accurate our results were. If we were to continue collecting data our result could be calculated to be the same as the actual lifetime. Our research was successful and helped us to learn about the decay of muons. We could continue our research by testing if the decay rate changes at different temperatures or different angles from the sun.