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Neutrino Behavior Discovery

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A major discovery regarding the behavior of neutrino’s was announced in southern China this month.  After decades of wondering how electron neutrinos fluctuate between the three ‘flavors’ or types that exist, researchers now have a very precise measurement of how often they oscillate into other flavors.

Using six massive detectors buried in the mountains near the Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear reactors in southern China, researchers have been able to observe tens of thousands of electron antineutrino interactions, which led to this groundbreaking discovery. Other labs at nuclear facilities in Japan, France, and South Korea have also been working on the process of being able to measure this previously unknown characteristic. Now researchers around the world are one step closer to answering two major questions regarding the power of neutrinos:

  1. How do the three neutrino masses stack up?
  2. Could neutrinos be the reason why matter is abundant in our universe and antimatter disappeared?
Neutrinos, which are electrically neutral subatomic particles, are the result of radioactive decay, or nuclear reactions (like those that take place on the Sun), in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays hit atoms. The three types that exist are: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. In a pair of contreversial experiments that are still widely disputed, it was measured that neutrinos can travel faster than light. Some experts believe that if their theories about neutrinos prove true, they could be used to probe in places where light or radio waves cannot penetrate, such as the surface of the sun. In the near future, neutrino telescopes could help us see far info other galaxies without being limited by gas or light.

Source: Symmetry Breaking

Photo: Michael Kappel / flickr

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