Physics in Perspective

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 401–427 | Cite as

The Discovery of the Tau Lepton and the Changes in Elementary-Particle Physics in Forty Years

  • Martin L. PerlEmail author
Original Paper


I describe the discovery of the tau lepton in the 1970s using the SPEAR electron-positron collider and the SLAC-LBL detector of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. I also describe the subsequent verification of the existence of the tau lepton and its leptonic nature by experiments at SPEAR and at the DORIS electron-positron collider at DESY. As a preliminary to the tau discovery I discuss how I became a physicist and became interested in leptons. This history of the discovery of the tau allows me to give a general picture of the high-energy physics world of forty years ago and to discuss the changes that have occurred in the practice of high-energy physics over these forty years.

Key words.

Martin L. Perl tau lepton discovery Stanford Linear Accelerator Center leptons tau lepton tau neutrino electron muon electron-muon puzzle sequential lepton model SPEAR SLAC-LBL detector high-energy physics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations