Neutrinos in the News

Something’s up. Perhaps there’s some degree of hope that we may be reversing the tide of “dumbeddownness” in the stories that the media pumps through its many tubes to reach us. So, it comes as a welcome surprise to see articles about the very, very small making big news in publications like the New Yorker. Stories about neutrinos no less. Thank you New Yorker for dumbing us up. And, kudos to the latest Nobel laureates — Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald — for helping us understand just a little bit more about our world.

From the New Yorker:

This week the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald for their discovery that elementary particles called neutrinos have mass. This is, remarkably, the fourth Nobel Prize associated with the experimental measurement of neutrinos. One might wonder why we should care so much about these ghostly particles, which barely interact with normal matter.

Even though the existence of neutrinos was predicted in 1930, by Wolfgang Pauli, none were experimentally observed until 1956. That’s because neutrinos almost always pass through matter without stopping. Every second of every day, more than six trillion neutrinos stream through your body, coming directly from the fiery core of the sun—but most of them go right through our bodies, and the Earth, without interacting with the particles out of which those objects are made. In fact, on average, those neutrinos would be able to traverse more than one thousand light-years of lead before interacting with it even once.

The very fact that we can detect these ephemeral particles is a testament to human ingenuity. Because the rules of quantum mechanics are probabilistic, we know that, even though almost all neutrinos will pass right through the Earth, a few will interact with it. A big enough detector can observe such an interaction. The first detector of neutrinos from the sun was built in the nineteen-sixties, deep within a mine in South Dakota. An area of the mine was filled with a hundred thousand gallons of cleaning fluid. On average, one neutrino each day would interact with an atom of chlorine in the fluid, turning it into an atom of argon. Almost unfathomably, the physicist in charge of the detector, Raymond Davis, Jr., figured out how to detect these few atoms of argon, and, four decades later, in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this amazing technical feat.

Because neutrinos interact so weakly, they can travel immense distances. They provide us with a window into places we would never otherwise be able to see. The neutrinos that Davis detected were emitted by nuclear reactions at the very center of the sun, escaping this incredibly dense, hot place only because they so rarely interact with other matter. We have been able to detect neutrinos emerging from the center of an exploding star more than a hundred thousand light-years away.

But neutrinos also allow us to observe the universe at its very smallest scales—far smaller than those that can be probed even at the Large Hadron Collider, in Geneva, which, three years ago, discovered the Higgs boson. It is for this reason that the Nobel Committee decided to award this year’s Nobel Prize for yet another neutrino discovery.

Read the entire story here.

61 thoughts on “Neutrinos in the News”

  1. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your
    website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here
    and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?

    Superb work!

  2. Nice blog right here! Also your web site so much up fast!
    What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink
    to your host? I desire my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  3. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website.
    I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my
    own site now 😉

  4. Hi, There’s no doubt that your web site could be having internet browser compatibility issues.
    When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E.,
    it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick
    heads up! Aside from that, excellent blog!

  5. Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look.
    I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Terrific blog and wonderful style and design.

  6. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

  7. Hi would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working
    with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers
    and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.

    Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!

  8. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have take into
    accout your stuff prior to and you are simply
    extremely fantastic. I really like what you’ve received here, really
    like what you are stating and the way during which you assert it.
    You’re making it enjoyable and you still care for to stay it smart.

    I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a wonderful site.

  9. My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the
    less. I’ve been using Movable-type on several websites for about a year and am
    nervous about switching to another platform. I have heard
    great things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  10. I every time used to read article in news papers but now as I am a user of internet
    so from now I am using net for content, thanks to web.

  11. It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info.
    I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thanks
    for sharing.

  12. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively helpful and
    it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & aid different users like its
    helped me. Good job.

  13. You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to
    be really one thing which I believe I would never understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and extremely vast
    for me. I am having a look forward on your subsequent publish,
    I will try to get the hang of it!

  14. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing problems with
    your site. It appears as if some of the written text on your posts
    are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment
    and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This
    might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this
    happen before. Thank you

  15. obviously like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on several
    of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I
    in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I’ll certainly
    come back again.

  16. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article
    like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good
    content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful
    than ever before.

  17. I think what you published made a bunch of sense.
    But, what about this? suppose you were to create a killer post title?
    I ain’t saying your content is not solid., however suppose you added something
    to maybe get people’s attention? I mean Neutrinos in the
    News | theDiagonal is kinda vanilla. You might glance at
    Yahoo’s front page and see how they write article
    titles to grab viewers to click. You might add a related video or a pic or
    two to get readers excited about everything’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it would make your posts a little
    livelier.

  18. I’ve read some good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to make such a excellent informative web site.

  19. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful information particularly the closing part 🙂 I care
    for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a
    very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  20. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  21. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

    Now i’m very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something regarding this.

  22. Great post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Appreciate it!

  23. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

  24. Thank you for another great article. The place else may anybody get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such information.

  25. My wife and i felt really glad John could deal with his reports via the ideas he came across from your very own web site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply choose to be handing out points the rest could have been trying to sell. We really keep in mind we now have you to be grateful to for that. The entire explanations you made, the straightforward web site menu, the friendships your site give support to engender – it’s many fabulous, and it’s letting our son and our family recognize that that idea is interesting, and that’s exceedingly indispensable. Thank you for all!

  26. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is great, let alone the content!

  27. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it
    up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come
    back later on. All the best

  28. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader
    entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost
    moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  29. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked
    submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all
    that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  30. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  31. There are certainly a lot of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to bring up. I supply the thoughts above as normal inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you convey up the place an important thing shall be working in sincere good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged round issues like that, however I am certain that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Both girls and boys feel the influence of only a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

  32. Hey, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.