U.S. particle physicists urge feds to build neutrino beam

Credit: Wiki Commons

Although they are invisible, neutrinos are everywhere in the Universe. These tiny subatomic particles, created by the Big Bang, zip all around us and even through us, without us even knowing they’re there. Neutrinos are similar to electrons, except that neutrinos carry zero electric charge, which means that electromagnetic forces don’t affect them.

While neutrinos were only a theory back in 1930, they were actually discovered in 1959. Further experiments eventually discovered that three types of neutrinos exist: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. Each type of neutrino is associated with a specific antiparticle, but beyond that, we don’t know much else about these mysterious particles. Neutrinos can also easily shift from one type into another, but we have no idea of how and why.

That’s why a group of physicists have attended a scientific panel to urge federal officials that the U.S. should construct a billion-dollar facility to study neutrinos. The project would create an 800-mile underground neutrino beam that would run from underneath Chicago all the way to South Dakota. At the end of the beam, a massive detector would (hopefully) observe some of these ghost-like particles.

If the federal government approves of the project, the beam’s construction would take around 10 years, with an expected running time of 20 years.

Physicists compared the beam to what the Large Hadron Collider in Europe did for the Higgs boson, stating that the neutrino beam could do the same here in the U.S. for the neutrino, especially since it’s been some time since the last U.S. particle physics project.

As neutrinos are also associated with dark matter and other particle physics-related things we still do not understand, this project might allow us to unravel yet more mysteries of the Universe.

Via Yahoo! News (AP)

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