Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Neutrinos have mass? Uh oh.

That means a whole lot of re-working of the Standard Model. Time to get busy, physicists!
For the first time, physicists have confirmed that certain subatomic particles have mass and that they could account for a large proportion of matter in the universe, the so-called dark matter that astrophysicists know is there but that cannot be observed by conventional means.

The finding concerns the behavior of neutrinos, ghost-like particles that travel at the speed of light. In the new experiment, physicists captured a muon neutrino in the process of transforming into a tau neutrino.
That's pretty awesome on a fundamental level, but how about these little details?
Because the neutrino beam that is created is not affected by electrical or magnetic fields, the proton accelerator must be pointed directly at detectors in the laboratory under Gran Sasso mountain 453 miles away in central Italy, between the towns of L'Aquila and Teramo. When neutrinos are produced, they continue in the same direction of the proton beam, arriving at Gran Sasso in 2.4 milliseconds.

The detector at Gran Sasso is a massive apparatus made up of 150,000 "bricks" of photographic film interleaved with lead sheets. The total mass of the bricks, which are accompanied by electronic detectors and other apparatus, is about 1,300 tons.

Mind = Blown.

blog comments powered by Disqus