Brookhaven Lecture

"458th Brookhaven Lecture: 'Fire, Earth, Water, Iron: Harnessing the Elements to Study Nature's Most Elusive Elementary Particles'"

Presented by Mary Bishai, Ph.D., Physics Department, BNL

Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Scientists are harnessing the properties of immense natural powers to capture and learn more about one of the most minute particles ever known: the neutrino. Ghostlike neutrinos pour continuously in billions per second through the earth and everything on it, yet they interact so weakly with all other material that they pass almost without trace. Already, many years of experiments have yielded great discoveries about the neutrino. For example, there are three types: electron, tau, and muon neutrinos — one for each generation of the lepton family of particles — and they can oscillate, or change from one type to another. Yet deep mysteries remain. What is the mass of the electron neutrino? Could neutrino research shed light on the origin of the matter/anti-matter asymmetry in our Universe? Are there only three generations of leptons? Neutrinos come from many sources, including the fiery heart of the sun. She will describe how in a huge underground body of water in Super-Kamiokande, Japan, scientists proved that neutrinos from cosmic rays change from one type to another. She will also talk about her work with colleagues in ongoing experiments such as MINOS at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and the Soudan Mine, Minnesota, Daya Bay in China, and the planned Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment stretching between Fermilab and South Dakota, in which earth, iron and other elements play essential roles.

Hosted by: Stephen Musolino

More Information

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