Neutrino : is a type of
strange, weird, tiny, energetic particle, with neither mass nor electric
charge, it is virtually an undetectable particle and one of the most
illusive in the universe.
Scientists now believe that neutrinos fill our universe and rough
calculations suggest that a hundred trillion neutrinos pass through our
bodies every second. Some can even pass unchanged pass right through
the Earth and through giant clouds of interstellar gas and dust, without
leaving a trace. This unique ability allows neutrinos to carry
messages from the far reaches of the universe. Indeed some neutrinos are
so fantastically energetic, 'they carry a bigger punch than even the most
intense gamma ray.' For this reason it is thought that neutrinos may
originate from places such as neutron stars, active galactic centers
and exploding stars, or supernovas. Some scientists even believe
that the lower-energy neutrinos may comprise a large proportion of the
mass in the universe.
"The hope is that the particle that is almost nothing will tell
us almost everything about the universe." Says Francis Halzen
(theoretical physicist at University of Wisconsin-Madison).
Originally these particles were proposed by a man called Wolfgang Pauli in
1930 to make an equation balance. These new particles were used to
explain the results of radioactive decay experiments which appeared to be
violating the conservation of energy. The conclusion which Pauli
drew from his experiments was that these particles must have had only very
weak interactions with matter and that they must be extremely light.
Around three years later a man called Enrico Fermi gave them their name,
'neutrinos'. As part of his theory of weak interaction he also
conducted a detailed analysis of their properties.
It wasn't until 1956 that the first experimental evidence for neutrinos
appeared, along with a strong indication that there could also be more
than one species of neutrino.
The first species of neutrino is associated with the electron in certain
The second species of neutrino is called the muon neutrino because of it's
association with the muon, (a particle just like the electron except that
it is much more massive). Both the electron and muon are called leptons
one family of fundamental particles.
The third species of lepton, the tau was discovered in 1975 along with
evidence of the corresponding neutrino, but until now has never been
Source of info for this article: The
Great Natrino Hunt
A ten second shower of neutrinos
from Supernova 1987A
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