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IceCube is a cubic kilometer of ice burried under 1400 meters of the snow to remove interference - Courtesy NSF
A new experiment in Antarctica may reveal the answers to the most consuming question in physics today

PhysOrg is reporting about an ambitious new neutrino detector experiment near the South Pole.  By positioning sensors along a 1 cubic kilometer patch of ice buried below the Antarctic ice flows, NSF researchers anticipate detecting high energy neutrinos as they collide with atoms in the ice flow. 

High energy neutrinos are sub atomic particles.  Scientists are interested in cosmic neutrinos -- remnants of galactic explosions and other phenomena.  Typically, high energy neutrinos pass through the Earth without colliding with a single particle.  IceCube and other various neutrino detectors attempt to spot a neutrino as it collides with water molecules in the ice.  Only a few high energy neutrinos have been spotted in all detectors to date, but scientists find these collisions extremely useful because particle accelerators cannot propel neutrinos to speeds found naturally with these high energy neutrinos. 

The collisions of particles found in IceCube will be studied to see if they support or disprove string theory.  String theory is a proposed Theory of Everything -- a way to describe all physical phenomena in one concise set of laws.  In a nutshell, string theory claims that the universe is not made up of small particles, but rather small strings that vibrate.  The vibrations of these strings compose all physical matter and forces of the universe. 



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RE: Some responses
By stephenbrooks on 1/29/2006 6:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this about looking for Lorentz-violation in the highest-energy cosmic rays? I guess super-high-energy neutrinos would have the highest gamma factor of just about any massive particle I can imagine, so they're a good one to test that e.g. the speed of light stays constant. That, I thought, was something on the level of extra dimensions/strings, as opposed to the 'normal' neutrino oscillation research which only reaches to supersymmetry and the GUT level.


RE: Some responses
By clubok on 1/29/2006 10:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
From the article at physorg:

quote:
“String theory and other possibilities can distort the relative numbers of ‘down’ and ‘up’ neutrinos,” said Jonathan Feng. “For example, extra dimensions may cause neutrinos to create microscopic black holes, which instantly evaporate and create spectacular showers of particles in the Earth's atmosphere and in the Antarctic ice cap. This increases the number of ‘down’ neutrinos detected. At the same time, the creation of black holes causes ‘up’ neutrinos to be caught in the Earth's crust, reducing the number of 'up' neutrinos. The relative ‘up’ and ‘down’ rates provide evidence for distortions in neutrino properties that are predicted by new theories.”


It doesn't sound to me like they're looking at Lorentz violation. BTW, the 'down' vs. 'up' in the quote refers to the direction the neutrinos are coming from - not their helicity (which way they spin) or their flavor (what kind of neutrino). So I'm guessing that they're not looking for oscillations either.


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson











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