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In the 1950’s and 1960’s it seemed that QED was a happy exception to a general breakdown of quantum field theory. 2 Weak interactions Nuclear β decay has an interesting history by itself, and has led to the modern gauge theory of electro-weak interactions. In the beginning of 1896, a few months after More than a decade later, trouble for field theory seemed again to arise. Anomalies in processes involving chiral fermions were discovered [91] and it initially seemed these could not be described by a path integral approach; in fact, some well-known physicists even claimed anomalies did not exist.

This favoured higher-energy neutrinos, and thus lower-energy electrons. For several years this KU theory [94] dominated β decay, but then it was found that all experiments had been wrong: they had included secondary effects due to thick sources [1]. With thinner sources, Fermi’s theory reemerged as the correct model, and the KU theory disappeared from the stage. 37 55 2. WEAK INTERACTIONS Most importantly, he checked the universality of GF : different radioactive elements had absolute decay rates which agreed with the same value of GF .

3) I where OI = I, γµ , iγµ γ5 , 2i [γµ , γν ], γ5 and CI are arbitrary constants (the normalization of GF was fixed by taking CI = 1 for OI = γµ ). The Fermi-Gamov-Teller theory (also called the four-fermion theory) did describe nuclear β decay very well, and later also the decay of the muon (discovered in 1937, 56 1. A BRIEF HISTORY OF QUANTUM GAUGE FIELD THEORY but erroneously first identified as the pion, see below). 4) One could now describe all weak interactions by this theory (¯ pn)(¯ eν) (¯ ν e)(¯ np) (¯ pn)(¯ np) (¯ ν e)(¯ eν) (¯ eν)(¯ ν µ) (¯ np)(¯ ν µ) nuclear β decay proton decay in nuclei weak nuclear forces electron-neutrino scattering µ decay µ-capture in nuclei This universal four-fermion theory was very successful, despite the fact that it was nonrenormalizable.

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