There’s a certain appeal that the elusive, isolated archetype has always had. If we’re to look at most all celebrities that have never quite fit the job description, everything becomes clear. Well, such are things with the mystery of neutrinos.
Somewhere on this Earth, a lot of scientists are devoting insane amount of research on subatomic particles such as the new megastar – the Higgs boson, or photons, protons, electrons and so on and so forth. But a relatively small amount of studies have covered one of the more elusive elements that are found in nature. It’s called the neutrino, and it’s just about everywhere.
A recent report published online in Nature takes a closer look at the subatomic particle. The only more widely observable particles of this kind are photons. Photons make up light. And light is everywhere. So it would only be logical that we would know much more about such a common element. Well, apparently we don’t. It’s the most elusive element out there.
Let’s explore what we know. Neutrinos, once thought to be massless, have been proven to have an extremely small weight. Neutrinos, as was discovered recently by researchers at Fermilab, can oscillate as they travel through space and time. What does that mean? Well, there are three types of neutrinos, depending on who they like to hang out with.
Electron neutrinos are the lightest, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos are a bit heavier. Right now, this is baffling scientists. How can something change its mass when it attaches itself to something else? Some scientists speculate that there exists a fourth type of neutrino, called a sterile neutrino, which is so unreactive that it’s extremely hard to see. This would solve the x of the whole neutrino oscillation equation.
To tackle the neutrino, Nature reports four big experiments which are already underway and are said to provide many answers by the year 2025. The first is in the US. It’s called the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (or DUNE, for connoisseurs). It is in the planning phase, has a budget of $1 billion, and wants to make big, high-energy neutrinos. The second is the Hyper-Kamiokande in Japan. This one wants to be the biggest device able to detect neutrinos. The more we detect, the more we can study. This one is also only in plan, and its budget is slightly less – $800 million.
Another two experiments are planned in China and India. The first, the Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory, has already begun construction, and it’s positioned 0.7 kilometers into the ground. The Indian one will be the biggest experimental scientific experiment in the whole country, its funding is already approved.
Neutrinos are super important to the world, and however big the funds allocated for its research may seem to you, the money may still not be enough.
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