Question

Muons are unstable subatomic particles that decay with a mean
lifetime of 2.197us

(producing electrons and neutrinos) as measured in the inertial
frame of the muons. Many

are produced in the upper atmosphere about 10 km above the surface
of the Earth, and

some of them travel very near the speed of light on their way to
the surface.

A) Calculate the largest distance any particle can travel in
2.197us, with both the time

and the distance measured by observers on the surface of the Earth.
You will find a

distance much less than 10 km, so any muons that survive to reach
the surface of the

Earth must live far longer than 2.197us as measured by an Earth
observer. In fact,

most high-speed muons do survive the trip.

B) Consider muons traveling at a speed of 0.999 c relative to
the Earth. Calculate the

average distance they travel toward the Earth before decaying as
measured by an

Earth observer.

C) Consider muons traveling at a speed of 0.999 c relative to
the Earth. Calculate the

thickness of the 10.0 km atmosphere as measured by observers in the
muons' frame.

Answer #1

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Muons are unstable subatomic particles that decay to electrons
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