04 August 2017

Love Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos: The Fundamental Properties of Physics

Neutrinos Caught In The Act Of Collision
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Neutrinos are known as the “ghost particle.” Even though countless numbers of the subatomic particles rain down from the sun, supernova, and other cosmic sources every second, they are difficult to detect because of their weak interactions with matter. Physicists at the Oak Ridge Laboratory were able to take the first measurement of a neutrino interacting with the nucleus of an atom.Results were published this week in the journal Science.
Neutrino detectors that hunt for high-energy cosmic neutrinos are often larger apparatuses buried deep underground. But this group of scientists used a small detector that captured low-energy neutrinos coming from a manmade source. Kate Scholberg, a physicist and an author on that study, describes how the team was able to capture this elusive process, and how this observation could be used as a model for understanding neutrinos formed from cosmic sources.

Segment Guest
Kate Scholberg is a professor of physics at Duke University. She’s based in Durham, North Carolina.

BEHIND THE SCENES > Meet The Producer
About Alexa Lim
Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

Opening image description:
A global map combining geoneutrinos from natural uranium and thorium decay in the earth’s crust and mantle, and neutrinos emitted by power reactors worldwide. From Usman, S.M. et al. AGM2015: Antineutrino Global Map 2015. Sci. Rep. 5, 13945; doi: 10.1038/srep13945 (2015).
Scientists have been chasing neutrino particles that were spewed out after the formation of the universe. But neutrinos also form on our own planet, by the natural decay of radioactive elements and as byproducts from nuclear power plants. Reporting in Scientific Reports, a team of scientists mapped out both “geoneutrinos” and manmade neutrinos. Physicist Stephen Dye, an author on that study, explains how neutrinos can be used to probe the deepest parts of the earth, as well as to keep an eye on global nuclear projects.
*This copy was updated on September 18, 2015, to indicate that the team of scientists mapped out manmade neutrinos in addition to geoneutrinos.
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