Neutrino transformation could help explain mystery of matter

Dave Mosher

Neutrino transformation could help explain mystery of matter

A technician works on equipment that feeds a particle beam into the MINOS neutrino oscillation experiment.

Two research teams have found new evidence of transformations in elusive elementary particles called neutrinos. The findings may finally help explain why the universe didn’t vanish shortly after its birth.

“These results are just the beginning of the story for neutrinos,” said physicist Robert Plunkett of Fermilab in Chicago. “They could be a clue, a leftover from the early universe, and tell us why there’s now far more matter than antimatter.”

Most neutrinos are emitted by the sun, and are so small and ghostly that billions pass through our bodies every second. Most go right through Earth without hitting anything. But some human-built devices—big chambers of oil or water lined with photon detectors, or detector arrays plunged into seawater or Antarctic ice—can record the blip of light when a neutrino occasionally slams into an atom.

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