Neutrinos: The inscrutable “ghost particles” driving scientists loopy – Cyber Information

Enlarge / The Tremendous-Kamiokande neutrino detector on the Kamioka Observatory in Japan. (credit score: Kamioka Observatory, ICRR (Institute for Cosmic Ray Analysis), the College of Tokyo )

One way or the other, neutrinos went from simply one other random particle to changing into tiny monsters that require multi-billion-dollar services to grasp. And there’s simply sufficient thriller surrounding them that we really feel compelled to construct these services since neutrinos may simply tear aside your entire particle physics neighborhood on the seams.

It began out innocently sufficient. No one requested for or predicted the existence of neutrinos, however there they had been in our early particle experiments. Sometimes, heavy atomic nuclei spontaneously—and for no good purpose—rework themselves, with both a neutron changing right into a proton or vice-versa. Because of this course of, generally known as beta decay, the nucleus additionally emits an electron or its antimatter companion, the positron.

There was only one small downside: Nothing added up. The electrons by no means got here out of the nucleus with the identical vitality; it was a little bit totally different each time. Some physicists argued that our conceptions of the conservation of vitality solely held on common, however that didn’t really feel so good to say out loud, so others argued that maybe there was one other, hidden particle taking part within the transformations. One thing, they argued, needed to sap vitality away from the electron in a random solution to clarify this.

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