Quanta Magazine recently published an article about how the two methods of measuring the neutron’s longevity give different answers, creating uncertainty in cosmological models. But no one has a clue what the problem is. UT nuclear physicist Geoffrey Greene said that physicists need to know the neutron’s lifetime in order to calculate the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium that would have been produced during the universe’s first few minutes.
“That balance of hydrogen and helium is a very sensitive test of the dynamics of the Big Bang. But it also tells us how stars are going to form over the next billions of years,” said Greene.