Tag Archives: Neutrinos


14 Jun

This is fascinating. For those, like me, who find it difficult to conceptualize these particles, they are described as: subatomic, invisible: electrically neutral and passing through space without interference, They travel in straight lines and are almost undetectable. In fact, in seconds, tens of billions pass through our bodies. They are created by radioactive decay such as takes place in the sun  — most neutrinos apparently emanate from the sun.

Antarctica boasts a neutrino detector, ‘Ice Cube’. It is a telescope 1000s meters below the ice. It houses sensitive devices, strings of censors each with 60 sensitive light detectors. As I understand it, as neutrinos come hurting through, they occasionally collide with the nuclei of ice atoms. The collision produces a blue flash that detectors record and, since neutrinos travel in straight lines, the direction they have come from can be determined.

In April, two neutrinos, cunningly called Bert and Ernie, were detected with high enough energy to suggest they had come from the cosmos rather than from our atmosphere i.e. outside our solar system. This was a first. More have been since.

The aim now is further investigation directed towards that region of space in the hope of getting increase understanding of what is going on in the cosmos.




Cosmos, neutrinos, Ice Cube, Neutrinos from cosmos.

Science in Antarctica

10 Jan

I am giving a number of talks on Antarctica this year; obviously a most important year in relation to the commemoration of the deaths of the British Polar Party in 1912.  People remain fascinated by the achievements of the early twentieth century explorers.

But history is only a part of Antarctica; scientific advances on the continent have focussed the world’s attention on it as a platform for pivotal new information about the universe.

Since the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 (when scientists from many nations cooperated for the first time on scientific projects) and the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 (which set aside territorial claims and ensured the freedom of scientific projects), a vast amount of information has been gathered: weather balloons floating above the continent raised the first concerns about global warning, the South Pole telescope will survey thousands of galaxies. ‘Ice Cube’s a powerful telescope that searches for dark matter and is collecting information on neutrinos, Ice Cores (which retrieve a core of ice from deep below the Antarctic surface), give us information about the geological conditions existing hundreds of thousands of years ago. Antarctic lakes have been found deep below the ice with living creatures in them.

Truly a place of important ongoing possibilities, potential and fascination.