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Neutrinos on ice
February 13, 2011 2:24 PM   Subscribe

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory has been completed in Antarctica. What is a Neutrino anyway? Here is an informative video, which seems to draw at least some inspiration from this(NSFW), that explains what neutrinos are and how we can detect them.(via)

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is the successor project of the Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array(AMANDA). Various methods have been used to detect these "ghost particles".

Super Kamiokande (previously) is a large volume of water surrounded by phototubes that watch for the Cherenkov radiation emitted when an incoming neutrino creates an electron or muon in the water.

Another type of neutrino observatory can be found underwater. Examples of these include: Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope, ANTARES, NESTOR, and the proposed Cubic Kilometre Neutrino Telescope(KM3NeT).

Perhaps the most important neutrino observatory to date has been the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Ontario. This observatory provided the results which solved the solar neutrino problem indicating that neutrinos have mass. This has led physicists to conclude that something is wrong with the Standard Model, which predicts that neutrinos are massless. Revisions are under way.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (32 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory has been completed in Antarctica.
What were they doing, jackin' for beats?

I'm sorry...I'll go read the links now.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:34 PM on February 13, 2011


Yeah, start reading the publications and just picture Ice Cube while doing it. I spent an afternoon a while back giggling in my office that way.
posted by maryr at 2:38 PM on February 13, 2011


Does it have a subterranean water slide?
posted by moorooka at 2:42 PM on February 13, 2011


Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp
And it read, Ice Cube's a Nobel laureate.

I gotta say it was a good day.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:48 PM on February 13, 2011


I'm so glad to see the HipHop community get behind neutrino research.
posted by nevercalm at 2:53 PM on February 13, 2011


After reading the links I gotta say:

And my neutrino runs deep so deep so deep
put her ice to sleep
posted by hal_c_on at 2:58 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


IceCube looks through the earth and to the northern skies, using the planet as a filter to select neutrinos.

So it's essentially using the entire Earth as a lens filter. Science is awesome.
posted by ErWenn at 3:02 PM on February 13, 2011


*turns down stereo bangin' Cube*

People. PEOPLE! I have had a change of heart. This clearly is a well-researched, nicely put together post about what is actually a really, really interesting topic. I apologize for contributing to this total derail.
posted by nevercalm at 3:03 PM on February 13, 2011


This is also the first time I've seen someone measure something in cubic kilometers. (Okay, so it's just one cubic kilometer, but it's the same kind of crazy feeling I got when I first saw somebody selling a hard drive with a terabyte's worth of storage.
posted by ErWenn at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2011


This has led physicists to conclude that something is wrong with the Standard Model, which predicts that neutrinos are massless.

Is it that there is something wrong (incorrect) with the Standard Model...or is it that the Standard Model is incomplete because there are a whole hell of a lot of things it doesn't account for:

gravity
dark matter
you can do it put your ass into it.

(sorry...kinda).
posted by hal_c_on at 3:07 PM on February 13, 2011


This is also the first time I've seen someone measure something in cubic kilometers. (Okay, so it's just one cubic kilometer, but it's the same kind of crazy feeling I got when I first saw somebody selling a hard drive with a terabyte's worth of storage.

So I'm guessing we're really approaching QED-type-incomprehensible-except-to-36-people-in-the-world-kinda-art-science?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:09 PM on February 13, 2011


Anyone else notice the name--"IceCube"? It's like Ice Cube, the rapper!
posted by jeremy b at 3:34 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know what else is under the ice of the Antarctic? Mountains of Madness.

And also Alien Vs. Predator. Starring Lance Hendriksen.
posted by ovvl at 4:01 PM on February 13, 2011


One thing that could threaten the levels of intense coolness required to conduct these experiments.
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2011


previously noted:

Neutrinos, they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me. Like tall
And painless guillotines they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed—you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.


—John Updike
posted by ovvl at 4:03 PM on February 13, 2011


There's a rapper named Ice Cube? Small world.
posted by box at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2011


Fuck tha pole ice.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


I have eaten
the neutrinos
that were in
the icecube

and which
you were probably
saving
for science

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so calorie free
posted by geoff. at 4:51 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it that there is something wrong (incorrect) with the Standard Model...or is it that the Standard Model is incomplete because there are a whole hell of a lot of things it doesn't account for [...]

The Standard Model doesn't pretend to be a complete theory of the universe. It does, however, try to be a self-consistent theory of the Strong, Weak, and Electromagnetic forces. Finding small things, like neutrino mass, that cause problems for the self-consistency of the SM is good because it points towards the direction that new theories have to go.

Neutrino experiments have been one of the major areas of physics exploration over the past couple decades for this reason. It's an area that we know for sure has something interesting going on, and we can't keep all our eggs in the LHC's basket.
posted by auto-correct at 5:41 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


My only complaint about this great post: it neglects to mention that Ice Cube is led by my colleagues here at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
posted by escabeche at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2011


...and that he didn't even have to use his AK.
posted by Artw at 6:24 PM on February 13, 2011


The standard model does not "predict" that neutrinos are massless. It assumes that they are massless. (Technically, it assumes they remain massless even after electroweak symmetry breaking, though the other fermions do not.)

The only problem with introducing neutrino masses into the standard model is a "naturalness" problem: the masses are incredibly tiny compared to the electroweak symmetry breaking scale. This has led many researchers to believe that unknown physics is responsible for generating the masses. Any compelling theory of that new physics should also describe the parameters that govern neutrino mixing. A major purpose of the IceCube experiment purpose is to provide measurements of these mixing parameters.
posted by dsword at 6:54 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are we all done with the Ice Cube jokes? Could we all just grow up, please -- or at least take a moment to let the grownups appreciate something truly mind-expanding? Because if not, we're going to have a hell of a time when the next few cosmic ray observatories come on line: Now, OK, it turns out that last one actually is being sponsored by some kind of hip-hop group. BUT THAT'S STILL NO EXCUSE! Now can we all wipe the smirks from our faces, please?

Oh and in 2020, there's the Snoop Dog Extra-Large Hadrizzle-Colizzlator
posted by PlusDistance at 7:21 PM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well this fpp has gone places.

That being said, this:

>Neutrino experiments have been one of the major areas of physics exploration over the past couple decades for this reason. It's an area that we know for sure has something interesting going on, and we can't keep all our eggs in the LHC's basket.

and

>This has led many researchers to believe that unknown physics is responsible for generating the masses.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:56 PM on February 13, 2011


The standard model does not "predict" that neutrinos are massless. It assumes that they are massless. (Technically, it assumes they remain massless even after electroweak symmetry breaking, though the other fermions do not.)

Isn't that kinda the same thing?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:07 PM on February 13, 2011


Isn't that kinda the same thing?

The standard model does not predict the masses of any particles except the massless gauge bosons. Their masslessness follows from the mathematical structure of the theory. The SM also predicts the ratio of the masses of the heavy W and Z gauge bosons in terms of the electroweak coupling constants, but it does not fix the coupling constants themselves. These are put in by hand (after measuring them).

Likewise, all fermion masses are put in by hand. Saying that the standard model "predicts" that neutrinos are massless is like saying it predicts the electron is 0.511 MeV.
posted by dsword at 10:57 PM on February 13, 2011


I, for one, welcome our Neutrino Over-blahblahblahblah........
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:26 PM on February 13, 2011


I'm really sorry, this time I can't resist, and since there is already a rap-themed derail to this thread I'd like to share that IceCube is not the only rap presence at the South Pole, oh no, some people spend their time on a boat but some live At the Pole. Sorry once again.
posted by Lebannen at 3:06 AM on February 14, 2011


Google tells me you're going to need 8,202 copies of 12 Inches of Snow to get all the way a-lickey-boom-boom-down to the bottom of this thing.

Wait, wrong rapper?
posted by Eideteker at 6:55 AM on February 14, 2011


Likewise, all fermion masses are put in by hand. Saying that the standard model "predicts" that neutrinos are massless is like saying it predicts the electron is 0.511 MeV.

Ahhh ok I think I understand. So massless neutrinos are not predicted per se, but rather emerge mathematically from the model?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2011


Yup, in solving the equations you get zero mass for the neutrino to balance everything out. Except zero is not the right answer experimentally. So the finding of mass means the model needs to be tweaked.

Way back in the early 70's (the age of polyester) I worked as a physics shop gopher on DUMAND. Same sort of detector, but deep in the ocean.
posted by warbaby at 8:16 AM on February 14, 2011


So massless neutrinos are not predicted per se, but rather emerge mathematically from the model?

Not quite. Think of neutrino masses as free parameters of the theory that can only be determined by experiment. Since the standard model was formulated before we knew neutrinos had mass, everybody just assumed those parameters were all zero.

So for theorists at least, the interesting question is not "why do neutrinos have masses at all?" Instead, it is more along the lines of "why are the neutrino masses so incredibly small compared to all other particles' masses?"
posted by dsword at 10:02 AM on February 14, 2011


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