The Rise and Fall of Emil Konopinski's Theory of Beta Decay

Authors(s):Allan Franklin Publication:Scientific Values and Civic Virtues Publication Date:July 2005 Publisher: Oxford Scholarship Online Citation:Franklin, Allan. (2005). The Rise and Fall of Emil Konopinski's Theory of β Decay. Scientific Values and Civic Virtues. 10.1093/0195172256.003.0009. Link:

In 1934, Enrico Fermi proposed a theory of beta decay. Although it was supported by existing experimental evidence, a more detailed examination revealed discrepancies. Emil Konopinski and George Uhlenbeck proposed an alternative theory that better fit the results and was accepted by the physics community. It was later realized that both the experimental results and the experiment-theory comparison were incorrect. When both problems were corrected, in part by the work of Konopinski and Uhlenbeck themselves, Fermi’s theory was supported. As Konopinski publicly stated in a 1943 review article, “Thus, the evidence of the spectra, which has previously comprised the sole support for the K-U theory, now definitely fails to support it.