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Detector finally catches neutrinos in act of flavor changing

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Geplaatst op 02 juni 2010 - 19:30

Detector finally catches neutrinos in act of flavor changing

Over the weekend, a detector in the Gran Sasso facility in Italy detected a single tau neutrino in a beam that should have been purely muon neutrinos. That may not sound like a stunning turn of events, but it's actually yet another demonstration that the Standard Model of physics, which explains the behavior of elementary particles, doesn't quite explain everything. It's also the product of decades of somewhat confusing physics along with an experimental setup that involves shooting a beam of particles through hundreds of kilometers of the Earth's crust, only to have most of them go undetected. Welcome to the very strange world of the neutrino.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting had an entire session on neutrinos, and Fermilab's Kurt Riesselmann introduced it by asking everyone to hold out their hand for three seconds. During that time, a trillion neutrinos would pass through the space occupied by your hand. Despite these massive quantities, Riesselmann said, a typical human would have a grand total of three neutrinos actually collide with an atom in their bodies over the course of an entire lifetime.

Neutrinos and normal matter simply don't interact well, which has given the former a long and somewhat bewildering history. At AAAS, André de Gouvêa described how Pauli first proposed their existence in 1930 in order to balance the books on nuclear decay reactions. Unfortunately, he called them neutrons, only to have someone else use the same term for the relatively massive particle we now know as a neutron. Fermi eventually sorted this out by using the term neutrino.


Lees verder: http://arstechnica.c...tm_campaign=rss

Bron: Ars-technica

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