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The "evil genius" Neutrino pistol can finally expose the smallest particles in the universe

Neutrinos are probably the most underrated particles known to humanity. The physicist, intelligent guy and intelligent Wolfgang Pauli first proposed their existence in 1930 as a missing piece of the puzzle – some nuclear reactions had more to do than they did. Pauli decided that something tiny and invisible must come into play – hence neutrino, which is "not very neutral" in Italian.

Over the decades since this first proposal, we met and fell in love – but we don't quite understand – these little neutral guys. They have some weight, but we are not sure how much. And they can change from one type of neutrino (called 'taste' because why not?) To another, but we're not sure how.

Whenever physicists do not understand something, they are really excited because by definition the answer to the puzzle must lie beyond known physics. The mystery of neutrino mass and mixing can give us clues to such secrets as the earliest moments Big bang.

One small problem: smallness. Neutrinos are small and almost never talk to normal matter. Trillions to trillions now pass through your body. Do you see them No you don't To really delve into the properties of neutrinos, we need to make a big effort, and soon three new experiments with neutrinos will be available online to give us advice. We hope.[[[[Six cool underground science labs]



You may have heard the emotion of reworking the classic science fiction novel "Dune". This is not it. Instead, this DUNE means "Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, "Which consists of two parts. Part one will be in Fermilab, Illinois, and will contain a giant neutrino pistol in the style of genius that will accelerate protons to close range speed of light, smash them into objects and shoot trillions of neutrinos per second at the end of activity.

From there, neutrinos will travel in a straight line (because that's all they know how to do it) until they hit the second half, about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) nearby Sanford Underground Research Center in South Dakota. Why underground? Because neutrinos move in a straight line (again there is no choice), but the Earth is curved, so the detector must sit about a mile (1.6 km) below the surface. And this detector has about 40,000 tons (36,000 metric tons) of liquid argon.


The predecessor of the future Hyper-Kamiokande ("Hyper-K" if you want to be cool at physics events) has been aptly named Super-Kamiokande ("Super-K" for the same reasons), based near Hida, Japan. This is a fairly simple configuration for both instruments: a gigantic ultra-clean water tank surrounded by photomultiplier tubes that amplify very low light signals.

From time to time, a neutrino rarely hits a water molecule, causing the electron or positron (electron antimatter partner) to repel faster than the speed of light in water. It causes a flash of bluish light called Cherenkov radiation, and this light is captured by the photomultiplier tubes. Study the flash, understand the neutrino.

Super-K made a superhistory in 1998 when he provided the first solid evidence that neutrinos change taste during flight, based on observations of neutrinos produced in the infernal depths of the Sun's core. The discovery led the physicist Takaaki Kajita to receive the Nobel Prize, and Super-K to be patted by the photomultiplier tube.

Hyper-K is like Super-K, but bigger. With a capacity of 264 million gallons (1 billion liters), the water has a 20-fold Super-K collection volume, which means it can potentially collect 20-fold neutrinos at the same time as Super-K. Hyper-K will be looking for neutrinos produced by natural, organic reactions, such as fusion and supernovae, in the universe from around 2025. Who knows? It can also bring someone the Nobel Prize.


I'm not sure why physicists choose the acronyms they do during giant scientific experiments. In this case, Pingu is the name of the European animated penguin, who has various misfortunes and learns important lessons in life on the southern continent. It also means "Precision IceCube Next Generation Upgrade" (PINGU).

Part of this acronym IceCube refers to the largest, worst neutrino experiment in the world. The South Pole experiment consists of strings of detectors deeply embedded in a polar ice cover that will use the crystalline clarity of this ice to do the same as Super- and Hyper-K do in Japan: the detection of Cherenkov radiation produced by neutrinos running through the ice. The experiment really started a few years ago, but the scientists who are conducting it already want to improve.

Because. IceCube can be big, but that doesn't mean it's the best. He has a dead end: because of his huge size (the whole cubic kilometer of ice) it is difficult for him to see low energy neutrinos; they just don't make enough pop and hiss to be detected by IceCube detectors.

Enter PINGU: several additional detectors, located near the IceCube center, specially designed to capture lower energy neutrinos that hit the Earth.

When (hopefully) it goes online, PINGU will join an army of instruments and detectors around the world that are trying to catch as many ghostly, small, almost nothing as possible and discover their secrets.

Originally published on Live learning.

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