Physicists push for underground testing facility

Feb 02, 2012
Physicists push for underground testing facility
Northeastern professor Pran Nath talks about why he and more than 40 colleagues are urging the U.S. Department of Energy to fund an underground facility for particle physics research. Photo by Casey Bayer.

Pran Nath, the Matthews Distinguished Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, is among a group of leading theoretical physicists who have asked the Department of Energy to develop a large underground neutrino facility to maintain U.S. leadership in the frontier of particle physics. We asked Nath to explain the facility and its value.

What is the Long Baseline Experiment (LBNE) and why is an underground facility essential to its success?

are mysterious objects that hold the key to understanding many , including why our universe is made up of matter instead of anti-matter. Neutrinos also play a key role in supernova explosions, which are responsible for the origin of heavy elements and, thus, life itself.    

LBNE will seek to unravel the mysteries of the neutrino. It will produce neutrinos at Fermilab in Illinois and direct them to a multipurpose detector at Homestake gold mine, 1,200 kilometers away in Lead, South Dakota. U.S. physicist Raymond Davis, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002, conducted another neutrino experiment at Homestake starting in late 1960s.

The underground facility would also allow us to determine if protons live forever or eventually die or disintegrate. The proton disintegration would verify the Grand Unified Theory, in which the strength of all natural forces unify at high scales close to the Big Bang time, when the universe was born. Such a discovery would be a milestone in the history of physics.

Cosmic rays, radiation coming from outer space, can spoil neutrino experiments in aboveground facilities. If the experiment is done deep underground, the cosmic rays are absorbed before they reach the detector, thus giving more accurate results.

Why did you and your colleagues choose to issue this letter to the Department of Energy at this particular time?

With Europe, China and Japan pulling ahead of the United States with new generations of experiments on the high-energy frontier, the country stands to lose its leadership role in this area of science, unless immediate, vigorous action is taken. A few , including myself, discussed the possibility of writing to DOE in support of a large neutrino facility while at a workshop on underground physics in Lead last spring.  After the letter was completed, it was circulated among colleagues and received support from more than 40 leading high-energy theorists in the United States, including three Nobel Laureates and several members of the National Academy of Sciences.  Since the DOE is expected to make a decision on LBNE in the next few months, we chose to issue the letter now as a further recommendation for the underground facility.

Why is the DOE hesitant to develop this facility and how would you and your colleagues respond to their reservations?

LBNE has a high projected cost of $1billion to $1.5 billion and DOE currently has many expensive projects under consideration. Moreover, we are a signatory to the $23 billion International Fusion Experiment in France. Thus, there are many competing demands for DOE resources.

We do, however, believe that a large underground facility, which would also allow the possibility of smaller experiments such as the next generation experiments for identifying the nature of dark matter in the , is of urgent national interest.  Developing such a facility, which would also serve as a training ground for the next generation of scientists and students and contribute to enhancing the country’s scientific culture, is critical to maintaining America’s leadership in the high-energy frontier.

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User comments : 12

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deatopmg
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 02, 2012
"The underground facility would also allow us to determine if protons live forever or eventually die or disintegrate. The proton disintegration would verify the Grand Unified Theory, in which the strength of all natural forces unify at high scales close to the Big Bang time, when the universe was born..."

They want a facility essentially to verify the big bang but the release is written in a way that the big bang IS already a proven fact. If that is really the case then the facility is not needed and those limited tax monies can continue to be spent on green energy subsidies.

It's amazing to me how theories like the GUT or big bang, or postulates like SR become "laws of science" in the eyes of mediocre scientists, the media, and thus the general population, in spite of conflicting or poor evidence.
rawa1
1 / 5 (8) Feb 02, 2012
The physicists should invest into cold fusion research, become useful for the rest of human society - just after then they should ask the another money from it. Who is responsible for this, for example? http://pesn.com/2...olocaust Memo: the fact you're active and diligent still doesn't mean, you're not a parasite. If you don't want to be ignored, don't ignore the needs of the rest of society (especially when this rest is feeding you).
typicalguy
5 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2012
I thought proton decay was already disproven by an underground water experiment that has seen no decay in the last several decades?
rawa1
2 / 5 (8) Feb 02, 2012
I thought proton decay was already disproven by an underground water experiment that has seen no decay in the last several decades?
Nope, this is not how the mainstream science oriented to employment program really works. The negative results, which are violating existing theories are accepted a way later, than the positive results. It enables the physicists to research the same phenomena longer. For example the gravitational waves are studied one half of century already and we are still "bellow the sensitivity range of detectors" - although this sensitivity range is 100.000 lower, than before fifty years. If we cannot detect the phenomena even at the 10.000 lower values, than the theory predicts is, it would be considered fringe already in normal life - but not in religious mainstream physics. On the other hand, the cold fusion effects are ignored with mainstream science even when they manifest in 300% sensitivity range - just because it threatens the employments of theorists.
rawa1
2 / 5 (8) Feb 02, 2012
We can be perfectly sure, the gravitational waves cannot be detected with increased sensitivity of detectors, because they're observed already many years as a CMBR noise - and everyone can detect them with common TV set. But it doesn't prohibit the physicists in asking billion dollars for building another and another underground facilities. This is simply crazy and it demonstrates the power of mainstream physics lobby.
http://physicswor...ws/46027
rawa1
2 / 5 (8) Feb 02, 2012
Moreover, we are a signatory to the $23 billion International Fusion Experiment in France. Thus, there are many competing demands for DOE resources.
The ITER is the largest waste of scientific resources on the Earth. If we would stop it (and replaced with cold fusion research), we could continue in all experiments, which are facing the cancellation by now.

BTW Another successful Cold Fusion demonstration at MIT
tadchem
5 / 5 (1) Feb 02, 2012
Good luck with that!
The nuclear industry and the power industry are still waiting for the DOE to provide an underground storage facility for radioactive waste, mandated in 1982.
We are still storing it above ground in a multitude of relatively poorly controlled sites much more vulnerable to terrorists and accidents.
Ryan1981
1 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2012
Wonder why he had to quote this leadership role, we all live on the same earth, just combine forces and unite instead of doing everything on your own.
kaasinees
Feb 03, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2012
proton decay according to GUT's would be ruled out. Not the big bang.
Dogjaw
1 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2012
Cold fusion people: kind of like chemtrail people, but more cuddly.
Callippo
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2012
Cold fusion people: kind of like chemtrail people, but more cuddly.

Why MIT organizes lectures and demonstrations about cold fusion for students , after then? http://coldfusion...t-again/ http://www.infini...mit.html You should visit them and tell them about chemtrails...
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2012
Rawa1 has a point, science has become more of a career path in publicly funded defending dogma than in discovery. There are still good scientists, but they are outnumbered by the hacks who would be more at home in 'social sciences' or economics.
Also LENR (aka Cold Fusion aka the Pons Fleishman effect aka PFE) has been confirmed by NASA scientists (http://technology...nr.html) and now by MIT researchers, the principle of the Pons Fleishman effect should be accepted even if its cause is still a mystery and we have few theories which can explain (or predict) it.

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