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Similarities and differences between electron and muon

  1. Apr 11, 2014 #1
    A bit stuck with this question

    State one similartity and difference between

    a) an electron and a muon

    They are both Leptons?

    b) an electron neutrino and a muon neutrino

    They are both neutrinos?

    So what are the differences?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    I'd be surprised if noticing they are each the same kind of particle is not going to get you the mark for "similarity".
    i.e. What is it about them that means both electron and muon are leptons?

    Have you tried looking each particle up and making a list of their properties?
    i.e. mass, charge, spin, and so on? And then comparing the lists?
  4. Apr 11, 2014 #3
    I was also thinking that it was a vague answer just saying that they are the same kind of particle.

    Could i say that both electrons and muons interact via the weak interaction?


    I could say that both the muon and electron have a negative charge?

    I have a table but i dont have any differences noted between the muon electron, just the two similarities above.

    And as for part b) i dont know anything to write for that bit. A bit confused with that.

    Thanks for your reply!
  5. Apr 11, 2014 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Anything on your able that is the same will count, since they only ask for one similarity.
    Both being negatively charged is good.

    If your table does not have any differences, then it is incomplete.
    They must be different - otherwise there would be no need for the different names?
    So what properties are listed for the electron and for the muon? Write the down next to each other.

    what is their spin?
    what is their mass?
    do they decay into anything?

    I'll worry about the neutrinos after.
  6. Apr 11, 2014 #5
    We dont do spin here in the UK, i have no clue what that is and have never heard of it. It has never been mentioned to me by teachers or in exam board endorsed text books.

    Well the mass of the electron is 0.511 Mega Electron Volts, and the Muon is 106 Mega Electron Volts. I suppose you could say that they are both "small"? They are obviously different but would i get a mark just for stating their masses and saying that they are different?

    As far as i know, Electrons dont decay as they are a fundamental element.

    And muons decay into an electron, muon neutrino, and an electron antineutrino if its a negative muon.

    Or a positron, muon antineutrino and an electron antineutrino.

    I think those are right? And therefore that would be my difference? :D

    Thanks for not giving me the answers straight away, now i know whats what. This part of physics is my weakest part and i understand this bit alot better now. God help me when i get onto revising Quarks and stuff...
  7. Apr 11, 2014 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Lets see if I have understood you: you have noticed the different masses but you are unsure that this is an example of a difference? Is that correct?

    neutrinos are harder - similarities are easy to find, they are identical in all respects (that we know about) except one (maybe two if you look at what kind of neutrinos you get from the Sun, at Earth orbit distance).
    What they are looking for is to see if you can make connections between related parts of the course.

    ... the more of the working out you do for yourself the better you will recall it during exams and the less formal memorizing you need to do.
    Not everyone appreciates the nudge approach to teaching so ta.

    What education level is this at ...
    A-level does families of particles in broad strokes so that must be it.
    ... but spin is sort-of included at A-level and may be explicitly pointed out when you get to baryons (observations about spin are why quarks have color). Here is the AQA teacher's guide for A-level particle physics. see pp 11, 27.
    You should already have met angular momentum as part of the mechanics section.
    Probably not vital for exam revision though. ;)
  8. Apr 12, 2014 #7
    Well, its a difference, but i dont think it would be on the mark scheme because its a bit vague. I thought there would be a more specific difference.

    I managed to find the official answers online. Someone took a print screen from the online version of my textbook. I dont have the answers in the back of my book because the school cut them out! Here they are:

    -both are uncharged and do not interact through the strong nuclear force
    -Electron neutrinos do not interact with the muon, and the muon neutrino does not interact with the electron.

    Thats true, thats why im better at mechanical physics where the only way that you can practice is by using the formulas. And no probs :)

    This is all AS level (AQA)

    Quarks have colors? Lol i didnt know that, thats not mentioned to us! I just googled angular momentum, and nope we have not done that either.
  9. Apr 12, 2014 #8
    Just had a look at the answers, and the for that first question you can say that they have different rest masses :). The similarity is that they dont interact through the strong nuclear force.
  10. Apr 12, 2014 #9

    Simon Bridge

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    Certainly any property they share is a valid similarity and any property where they differ is a valid difference. The main thing is that you don't want trivial similarities and differences like they are similar in that they are in the Universe and differ in that they have different names.

    It won't help much to second guess the marking schedule, they are usually pretty complete.

    Not done circular motion? Oh well, it will be later this year.
    Same with quark color - maybe next year by the looks of things.
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