Discovery of proton decay: A must for theory, a challenge for experiment

Pati, Jogesh C.
August 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 533 Issue 1, p37
Academic Journal
It is noted that, but for one missing piece - proton decay - the evidence in support of grand unification is now strong. It includes: (i) the observed family-structure, (ii) the meeting of the gauge couplings, (iii) neutrino-oscillations, (iv) the intricate pattern of the masses and mixings of all fermions, including the neutrinos, and (v) the need for B - L as a generator, to implement baryogenesis. Taken together, these not only favor grand unification but in fact select out a particular route to such unification, based on the ideas of supersymmetry, SU(4)-color and left-right symmetry. Thus they point to the relevance of an effective string-unified G(224) or SO(10)-symmetry. A concrete proposal is presented, within a predictive SO(10)/G(224)-framework, that successfully describes the masses and mixings of all fermions, including the neutrinos - with eight predictions, all in agreement with observation. Within this framework, a systematic study of proton decay is carried out, which pays special attention to its dependence on the fermion masses, including the superheavy Majorana masses of the right-handed neutrinos. The study shows that a conservative upper limit on the proton lifetime is about (1/2 − 1) × 10[sup 34] yrs, with &vmacr;K[sup +] being the dominant decay mode, and as a distinctive feature, μ[sup+]K[sup 0] being prominent. This in turn strongly suggests that an improvement in the current sensitivity by a factor of five to ten (compared to SuperK) ought to reveal proton decay. Otherwise some promising and remarkably successful ideas on unification would suffer a major setback.


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