Application of Parity Violation in the Weak Nuclear Force

Dr. Dustin McNulty
Department of Physics

Idaho State University

In the late 1950's, the discovery of parity violation in the weak interaction traumatized the scientific community but provided a pivotal clue to our understanding of the weak-nuclear force. This unique feature of the weak interaction--that it would not look as it should in a mirror laboratory--governed the form of its interaction potential and eventually led scientists to the Standard Model picture of the weak force. Since no other forces in nature exhibit this spacial symmetry violation, experimentalists can isolate and study the force by searching for its signatures. Today, the weak and electromagnetic forces are the best understood forces in nature, and are now used as tools to understand the structure of nuclear matter. Specifically, ISU is involved with several experiments that apply these tools to understand the structure of neutron rich, complex nuclei such as lead-208 and calcium-48. In addition, the combination of high theoretical and experimental precision in the electro-weak force sector, allows experimentalists to search for disagreements (between theory and experiment) which would indicate physics beyond our Standard Model understanding. Following a brief introduction to parity violation and the development of weak-nuclear theory, I will discuss three future experiments at Jefferson Laboratory (PREX, CREX, and MOLLER) and the research that we do here at ISU to support these experiments.