Brookhaven Women in Science (BWIS) Activity

"Chasing the Secrets of Ghostly Neutrinos"

Presented by Sowjanya Gollapinni, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 4:00 pm — Small Seminar Room, Bldg. 510

In the intriguing world of subatomic physics, neutrinos form the most bizarre tiny entities known to date. Well, they may be tiny, but the world surrounding them is astonishingly big. Today scientists study these elusive particles to understand the biggest puzzles in the universe, from the structure of the atom to the formation of a star. As the popular saying goes, "Whenever anything cool happens in the universe, neutrinos are usually involved." Although more than a trillion of these little particles pass unnoticed through our bodies every second of the day, neutrinos still remain largely mysterious. These famously shy particles are notoriously difficult to detect given how rarely they interact with normal matter. How rare you ask? Let's say in your entire lifetime, perhaps one neutrino will interact with an atom in your body and seriously, you should feel fortunate that it is that way. Also, the weird fact that these ghostly particles can "morph" into one another makes it even more difficult to detect them. Despite all these challenges, researchers have managed to capture a handful of them by building immense and exquisitely sensitive detectors in some of the most remote places of the planet such as deep in the Antarctic ice, miles under a mine in Canada and deep under a mountain in Japan. Come for an hour to be mesmerized by the scientific adventures in the wonderful world of neutrinos and how they can help us unlock some of the deepest secrets of the universe.

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