Nucleon Stability: A Geochemical Test Independent of Decay Mode

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Science  02 Sep 1977:
Vol. 197, Issue 4307, pp. 989-991
DOI: 10.1126/science.197.4307.989


By analyzing published geochemical data on xenon isotopes measured in a 2.46 x 109-year-old telluride ore, a lower limit of 1.6 x 1025 years has been obtained for the mean lifetime of the nucleons in the tellurium-130 nucleus. This result is insensitive to the particular mode by which the nucleons decay and therefore provides a rigorous limit on possible baryon number nonconservation. The new limit is about two orders of magnitude better than the previous rigorous limit on nucleon stability.