physics_guy 20180815 01:09:11  In the center of momentum frame of the positron/electron system, their energymomentum fourvectors sum to zero. But a single photon has nonzero energymomentum in every reference frame. So this process would simultaneously violate energy conservation and linear momentum conservation.
physics_guy 20180815 01:23:47 
Clarification: the last three components of the fourvector are zero for the positron/electron system in their CM frame. The last three components of the single photon fourvector are nonzero in this frame because the photon always travels at the speed of light.

 
sina2 20131002 02:37:27  This is the way I feel better. Because we don't know both electron and positron moves in same direction or not, so it's better we be careful.
Conversation of momentum:
and conversation of energy:
and after a few math,
then
We know x maximum value could be 2, even 2 isn't satisfactory.  
Laura 20121101 07:10:41  In nuclear physics, pair production occurs when a high energy photon interacts with a nucleus. Without a nucleus to absorb momentum, a photon decaying into electronpositron pair (or other pairs for that matter) can never conserve energy and momentum simultaneously.(The answer can be obtained without the equations)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pair_production  
superlaser1 20120410 18:36:40  Other than phys2718 solution I was left hanging. First consider the photon moving in the direction. Momentum is a vector so for conservation of momentum we have the components of the particles momenta must be equal and for the momenta we have
Plugging this into the equation for conservation of energy we see
So to satisfy these conservation laws we have
Which can only be satisfied for or an imaginary angle .  
faith 20101105 20:06:47  confused. isnt pair production possible? i take it gammaray is some sort of a photon.
mrTrig 20101107 00:40:43 
hi faith,
Pair production certainly happens but it must be in the vicinity of a nucleus to do so. This question tells us that the photon is in free space.
Look at this nice visualization:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Pairproduction.png

 
archard 20100716 13:52:26  Photons have spin +/ 1, electrons and positrons have spin +/ 1/2  elimnate B and C.
Electrons and positrons have opposite charge, photons are chargeless, eliminate E.
At this point you can probably eliminate D if you know enough about particle physics. But if you're like me and do not, you can do what Yosun did and see that the electron must have velocity equal to the speed of light for both momentum and energy to be conserved.
walczyk 20110306 20:28:21 
you should analyze what your definition of conservation is.charge is conserved because the sum charge of a positron and electron is zero. Similarly you can come up with configurations of the system that don't violate momentum. What yosun did is the only solution, its not just A solution. Your solution was completely incorrect.

 
torturedbabycow 20100328 15:25:20  I like Void's approach a lot, so I'm paraphrasing it as a user solution:
You can always find a reference frame where the total momentum is ZERO after the pair production  this is the rest frame of the centerofmass of the electron and positron. However, total momentum is NEVER ZERO in any frame before the pairproduction if you only have one photon.
This by itself only narrows it down to (A) or (C), so if you aren't comfortable deciding (A) yet, think of it this way. The only way to get a single "zeromomentum" photon is to have a "zeroenergy" photon (zero frequency, infinite wavelength), and that's obviously a problem with Energy Conservation, not Angular Momentum conservation.
torturedbabycow 20100328 15:26:44 
Grr, and then I forgot to check "user solution." Oh well, maybe the paraphrase will help someone.

pam d 20110921 18:19:55 
Not sure if you're ever gonna look at this website again but this sure helped me.

 
duckduck_85 20081031 00:27:33  Quicker: (E) In the decay equation shown, both charge and lep number are conserved, cross out.
(D) Strangeness? nothing to do with this. cross out
(C) and (B) Angular momentum also does not play an important role here. Cross out.
That leaves (A).
 
a19grey2 20081030 23:25:18  I'd just like to note that the question here is very similar to question number on this same exam.  
greatm31 20081025 22:33:14  The problem is slightly more interesting than it seems. Think about it relativistically  you can only have a photon decay into an electron and a positron if it has the rest energy of the two particles: 0.511 * 2 = 1.022 MeV. BUT the energy of the photon changes based on your frame of reference (due to relativistic doppler effect). So while in one frame it has enough energy to pairproduce, in another it might not. That's why it cannot occur in a vacuum; if, on the other hand, other particles are present, they can supply the energy so that there's enough in EVERY frame. Cool, right?  
phys2718 20081014 09:56:57  Another Solution:
Initially the energymomentum relation for the photon is . If the pair creation could take place, then the energymomentum relation for the electron positron pair would be
. Now, say that momentum is conserved so that . Then from the first equation we have and inserting this into the second equation gives , so if momentum is conserved then energy can't also be conserved.  
Richard 20071010 23:48:39  I like to do it this way:
If momentum and energy are conserved in the system,
.
But since the first particle is a photon, .
This leads to,
which is clearly NOT true as the energy of a particle with nonzero mass includes an additional rest energy term.
So both energy and momentum conservation cannot exist.
 
Void 20051110 07:07:43  I think another way to look at this involves playing the reaction in reverse: pair annihilation. In the center of mass system, the total threemomentum is zero, whereas the total energy is 2E, where E is the energy of either particle. In order for threemomentum conservation, the momenta of the decay products must be conservedthus pair annihilation yields TWO photons, both moving of course at the speed of light. So you can't have a photon of zero momentum as pointed out earlier. Fourmomentum (that is, energy and threemomentum) aren't conserved.
Incidentally, this explains why in a Feynman diagram a single "electronphoton" vertex violates energy and momentum conservation.  
daschaich 20051109 00:12:48  The momentum calculation seems to assume that the leptons are both emitted in the same direction with the same velocity. I don't believe that's correct in general.
I like to think of the limiting case where the photon's energy is exactly equal to the combined masses of the electron and positron. Then if it were to decay (it has enough energy to do so), the electron and positron would both have to be stationary, clearly violating linear momentum conservation!
Using equations, you have and , giving !
flyboy621 20101106 00:02:51 
You're saying if the photon has just enough energy to create the pair, then they can't have any kinetic energy and hence must have no momentum. But that can't be unless the photon's momentum was zero, which of course it can't be. That all makes sense for the limiting case where the photon has no excess energy.
But I don't see how that logic rules out the decay if the photon DOES have excess energy. I think you have to do the calculation or use Void's method.

 