Physics panel to feds: Beam us up some neutrinos (Update)

May 22, 2014 by Seth Borenstein
This undated handout graphic provided by Fermilab in Chicago shows a proposed particle physics project that would shoot an invisible beam of neutrinos from Fermilab in Chicago to an old mine in South Dakota where a detector would look for it. The U.S. should build a billion-dollar project to beam ghostlike neutrinos 800 miles underground from Chicago to South Dakota in the hopes of understanding the plentiful but enigmatic fundamental particle that zips right through us and changes its nature at will, a panel of experts told the federal government. (AP Photo/Fermilab)

The U.S. should build a billion-dollar project to beam ghostlike subatomic particles 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) underground west from Chicago to the high plains state of South Dakota, a committee of experts told the federal government Thursday.

That would help scientists learn about these puzzling particles, called neutrinos, which zip right through us.

The proposed invisible neutrino beam would be the biggest U.S. particle physics projects in many years, said panel chairman Steven Ritz of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Still, it would be much smaller than Europe's Large Hadron Collider, which found the critical Higgs boson, colloquially called the God particle.

The neutrino beam was one of the top big-money projects the scientific panel suggested in a list of priorities for federal particle physics research. Other big projects included improvement of the European collider and the creation of a Japanese subatomic particle smasher.

If approved and funded, the neutrino beam would take about 10 years to build and could run for another 20 years, experts said.

"What CERN (the European collider operator) did for the Higgs boson, we want to do with the neutrino," said Joe Lykken, a particle theorist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Chicago. That lab would create the beam and aim it at an old mine in Lead, South Dakota. There, scientists hope a 50,000-ton (45,350-metric ton) detector would be able to spot an incredibly minute fraction of the particles.

Tiny and nearly mass-less, neutrinos are everywhere. About 100 trillion zip through us harmlessly each second. They were created by the Big Bang. They also form in the sun and our own bodies, but they are so fast and small that scientists have barely detected them for study.

"Of the known particles, the neutrinos as a group are the most oddball," Ritz said.

Neutrinos are a group because they come in three types, or "flavors," and they can shift from one type to another. Scientists don't quite know why, Lykken said.

If a neutrino is eventually beamed from Chicago, "it starts out as a chocolate milkshake, but it's partly strawberry by the time it gets to South Dakota," Lykken said.

He added, "You study the oddball in order to get insights into everything else."

Neutrinos could give scientists clues about the mysterious "dark matter" of outer space and other "weird astrophysical phenomena," said California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, who wasn't part of the scientific panel.

Explore further: Fermilab documenting construction of NOvA—next generation neutrino experiment (w/ video)

More information: The physics panel report: usparticlephysics.org/p5/
Fermi National Acceleratory Lab: www.fnal.gov/

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Burnerjack
2 / 5 (4) May 22, 2014
Which funding point should be reduced or eliminated for this? Education? Infrastructure? Elderly care? social welfare programs? Veteran's programs? Can't do it all, so prioritization is in order. Maybe an international consortium is in order.
Pejico
May 22, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (9) May 22, 2014
Which funding point should be reduced or eliminated for this? Education? Infrastructure? Elderly care? social welfare programs? Veteran's programs?


You left the easiest and most sensible place, war making programs.

For the price of an Iraq and Afghanistan war we could have a base on the moon, two JWST's, new and wondrous manned space flight capability and a real good start on a manned Mars mission, with a few really productive robotic missions in the making. A couple of trillion dollars buys a lot of good science.

The U.S. spends more annually on military related subjects than the next 15 countries combined.

Does Washington think they will have to fight:

# 2 China
# 3 Russia
# 4 Saudi Arabia
# 5 France
# 6 U.K.
# 7 Germany
# 8 Japan
# 9 India
# 10 South Korea
# 11 Italy
# 12 Brazil
# 13 Australia
# 14 Turkey
# 15 United Arab Emirates

ALL AT THE SAME TIME?

If you add together these fourteen nations combined, the U.S. spends more. (And doesn't include foreign "aid".)
Uncle Ira
2.3 / 5 (3) May 22, 2014
The U.S. spends more annually on military related subjects than the next 15 countries combined.

Does Washington think they will have to fight:

# 2 China
# 3 Russia
# 4 Saudi Arabia
# 5 France
# 6 U.K.
# 7 Germany
# 8 Japan
# 9 India
# 10 South Korea
# 11 Italy
# 12 Brazil
# 13 Australia
# 14 Turkey
# 15 United Arab Emirates

ALL AT THE SAME TIME?

If you add together these fourteen nations combined, the U.S. spends more. (And doesn't include foreign "aid".)


@ Q-Skippy. I'm not calling you the liar no. Honest seriously I'm not. But do you really mean that if all those other military-Skippys together totaled and tallied together it would be less than what America spends? I think I am reading what you say wrong because that does not sound right to me no.
11791
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2014
its worth the expense
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 23, 2014
But do you really mean that if all those other military-Skippys together totaled and tallied together it would be less than what America spends?

Depending on what numbers you take (below is based on 2013 numbers):
If you take the numbers from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, it's the list until (including) South Korea.

If you take the numbers from the International Institute for Strategic Studies you have to include Australia, too.

Next after the US is China with 1/3 to 1/5 the expenditure (depending on which study's numbers you use). There havebeen people who have argued that China gets a better 'bang for the buck' - but that only works if you also admit the US to be vastly more corrupt in that sector than China.
Uncle Ira
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2014
But do you really mean that if all those other military-Skippys together totaled and tallied together it would be less than what America spends?

Depending on what numbers you take (below is based on 2013 numbers):


Yeah anti-Skippy. I been reading up on that since I see the thing up there that the Q-Skippy wrote. Yeeooi, ol Ira had no idea that about that America spending that much more than all the other countries no. I mean I knew that we here in America spent a lot but thought is was because everybody else spend a lot too. So maybe the Q-Skippy has a point about meybe we spend too much and could spend some of it on the astrophysicist-Skippys trying to find out how the things go. But I tell this one thing, I get confused and mixed up when we talking about that much money me.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) May 23, 2014
I don't think a comparison to other countries is the most telling. Military spending is somewhere around 620bn pa. NASA budget is about 17bn pa.
So every man, woman and child in the US pays about 2000$ (which comes to about 4000$ per tax payer) a year for war-related goods and 54$ (100$ per tax payer) for space-related activities.

Whether that reflects the wishes of the people (and of the taxpayers)? You be the judge.
Uncle Ira
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2014
You be the judge.


I ain't that smart. I just think if those numbers are right that they could give the science-Skippys more money to find out the things they are looking for. Like he said up there, it ain't like we going to have to fight all them other Skippys at the same time. At least that's what I think he trying to say.
PacRim Jim
not rated yet May 24, 2014
If it were possible to reliably detect neutrinos, they would be perfect for transterran communication.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) May 24, 2014
the controversy of superluminal neutrinos observed
@zeph
if you are talking about MINOS, then AAAS Science magazine and Robert Plunkett of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, who works on the experiment called MINOS, state that the MINOS experiment from 2007 was measured less precisely than OPERA...
and if you are talking about the OPERA results, you already know that it was due to a loose cable
I ain't that smart
@Uncle Ira
don't sell yourself short
if those numbers are right that they could give the science-Skippys more money to find out the things they are looking for
absolutely true. Personally, I wish they would double NASA's budget.