Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Work To Detect Mysterious Neutrinos

Date:
March 17, 2005
Source:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Summary:
Livermore scientists are working to solve a 50-year-old question: Can neutrinos – a particle that is relatively massless, has no electric charge yet is fundamental to the make-up of the universe – transform from one type to another?

The MINOS far detector is located in a cavern half a mile underground in the Soudan Underground Laboratory, Minnesota. The 100-foot-long MINOS far detector consists of 486 massive octagonal planes, lined up like the slices of a loaf of bread. Each plane consists of a sheet of steel about 25 feet high and one inch thick, with the last one visible in the photo. The whole detector weighs 6,000 tons. Since August 2003, the far detector has collected data on cosmic rays and neutrinos. Now, scientists are using the detector to record man-made neutrinos. The MINOS collaboration expects to record about 1,000 neutrinos per year.
Credit: Image courtesy of Fermilab

Livermore scientists are working to solve a 50-year-old question: Can neutrinos – a particle that is relatively massless, has no electric charge yet is fundamental to the make-up of the universe – transform from one type to another?

Scientists are using two giant detectors, one at Fermi Lab and another in a historic iron mine in northern Minnesota, to work on the answer.

As part of the international team working on the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) project, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers will use the detectors to explore the mysterious nature and properties of neutrinos. Namely, they will seek to discover how neutrinos "change flavors."

Neutrinos come in three "flavors:" electron, muon and tau. Each is related to a charged particle, which gives the corresponding neutrino its name. Neutrinos are extremely difficult to detect because they rarely interact with anything. Though they can easily pass through a planet, solid walls and even a human hand, they rarely leave a trace of their existence.

"The probability of a neutrino interacting with anything is very small," said LLNL's Peter Barnes, who along with Livermore's Doug Wright and Ed Hartouni, is working on the MINOS experiment. "If you want to detect any neutrinos, you need something big."

Barnes, Wright and Hartouni are hoping that something big is a 6,000-ton detector lying deep in the Soudan, Minn. mine. The neutrinos will be generated along the underground beam line at Fermi Lab, will pass through the near detector at Fermi, and will travel through the Earth to the detector in Minnesota. Neutrinos are more easily detected when they are generated at a high energy (such as those at Fermi Lab).

The MINOS scientists chose the distance to the far detector to maximize the oscillation probability, which gives them the best opportunity to directly study the neutrino "flavor change."

Fusion in the sun results in electron neutrinos and scientists have predicted that if they can measure the electron neutrinos coming from the sun, they can measure the core of the sun. However, early experiments showed that less than half the expected neutrinos were observed on Earth. The idea that the missing electron neutrinos may have transformed into another type or "flavor" came alive.

This conclusion indicates that neutrinos do have some mass, small as it may be, in order for them to oscillate. So a portion of the electron neutrinos emitted from the sun could have changed flavors to muon or tau neutrinos before reaching Earth, thus solving the missing neutrino problem.

But it still doesn't explain how or why this occurs, Barnes said. "Our goal is to understand the flavor oscillation properties of neutrinos," he said.

Studying the elusive neutrino will help scientists better understand particle physics, specifically how particles acquire mass, as well as its role in the formation of the universe and its relationship to dark matter.

###

Livermore's portion of the project is funded by Laboratory Directed Research and Development and Physical Data Research Program dollars. The MINOS effort as a whole is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, High Energy Physics division.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Scientists Work To Detect Mysterious Neutrinos." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309145713.htm>.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (2005, March 17). Scientists Work To Detect Mysterious Neutrinos. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309145713.htm
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Scientists Work To Detect Mysterious Neutrinos." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050309145713.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Airlines Swanky New Plane

China Airlines Swanky New Plane

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) China Airlines debuted their new Boeing 777, and it's more like a swanky hotel bar than an airplane. Enjoy high-tea, a coffee bar, and a full service bar with cocktails and spirits, and lie-flat in your reclining seats. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins