Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana

Sep 19, 2016, 02:12 AM

Author (Photo: The IceCube Neutrino Observatory (or simply IceCube) is a neutrino telescope constructed at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.[1] Its thousands of sensors are distributed over a cubic kilometre of volume under the Antarctic ice. Similar to its predecessor, the Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA), IceCube consists of spherical optical sensors called Digital Optical Modules (DOMs), each with a photomultiplier tube (PMT)[2] and a single board data acquisition computer which sends digital data to the counting house on the surface above the array.[3] IceCube was completed on 18 December 2010.[4]

DOMs are deployed on "strings" of sixty modules each at depths ranging from 1,450 to 2,450 meters, into holes melted in the ice using a hot water drill. IceCube is designed to look for point sources of neutrinos in the TeV range to explore the highest-energy astrophysical processes.

In November 2013 it was announced that IceCube had detected 28 neutrinos that likely originated outside of the Solar System.[5] Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana

RAY JAYAWARDHANA is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. A graduate of Yale and Harvard and a recent winner of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, he uses many of the world's largest telescopes to explore planetary origins and diversity. He is the co-author of over eighty papers in scientific journals. His discoveries have made headlines worldwide, including in Newsweek, Washington Post, New York Times, Globe and Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, BBC, NPR and CBC, and have led to numerous accolades such as the Steacie Prize, the Steacie Fellowship, the Early Researcher Award, and the Vainu Bappu Gold Medal. He is an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in The Economist, Scientific American, New Scientist, Astronomy, and Sky & Telescope. He is also a popular speaker, a frequent commentator for the media, and creator of innovative outreach programs such as CoolCosmos, featuring 3000 ads in Toronto's subway cars, street cars and buses to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy.

Publishers Weekly: "While the Higgs boson has dominated recent physics news, astrophysicist Jayawardhana (Strange New Worlds) directs attention toward neutrinos, the €œpathologically shy€ elementary particles that offer a window into supernovas and may help answer questions about antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, and the early universe. With no electric charge and very little mass, neutrinos seldom interact with matter, for the most part passing untouched through the Earth itself; detection requires looking for particles created in the wake of the scant interactions that do occur. With clarity and wry humor, Jayawardhana relates how Wolfgang Pauli €œinvented€ the neutrino to explain where missing energy went during beta decay, then later bet a case of champagne that it would never be detected experimentally. After neutrinos were finally observed for the first time in 1956, scientists expanded the hunt from Earth to space, examining the rays emitted by the Sun. From deep underground in South Dakota's Homestake Gold Mine to Antarctica's IceCube, currently the world's largest neutrino detector, Jayawardhana vividly illuminates both the particle that has €œbaffled and surprised€ scientists, and the researchers who hunt it."