U.VA Physicists Participate in International Experiment to Study Origins of the Universe | Community Idea Stations


U.VA Physicists Participate in International Experiment to Study Origins of the Universe

Researchers at the University of Virginia are participating in a massive, international experiment, to study the origins of the universe. Neutrinos, subatomic remnants of the early universe, are high-energy particles that pass at nearly the speed of light through everything- our planet and our bodies. These ghostly particles are of intense interest to physicists because they may be a key player in how the universe came to be. Scientists believe The Big Bang created equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. They wonder now why they didn’t just cancel each other out. Learn more about this neutrino experiment called NOvA in this report by Charles Fishburne of 88.9 WCVE.

Craig Dukes, U.Va. Physics professor: Had this happened, and physicists call it the Annihilation Catastrophe, had it happened, then there wouldn’t be any star or planets.

Charles Fishburne: Something tilted the balanc and UVA Physicist Craig Dukes is part of an international team and a 280 million dollar ghost hunt, investigating a particle that has survived since the beginning of time.

Don Lincoln, Senior Scientist at the Fermilab: Neutrinos are the ghosts of the sub-atomic world. They interact less than any of the other known particles. Even though we are constantly bombarded by them, in fact something like 650 trillion of them are hitting you every second it took thirty years to prove that they exist at all.

…Neutrinos originate from nuclear reactions…

Charles Fishburne: Don Lincoln is Senior Scientist at the Fermilab, which has embarked on a 280 million dollar neutrino ghost hunt…UVA’s Dr. Craig Dukes is part of it.

Craig Dukes: And so they pretty much go through anything without really interacting and so the detector that we have, for instance in Northern Minnesota, is 14,000 tons and it has to be very large because you have to have a lot of mass to get them to interact at all.

Charles Fishburne: Fermilab fires them 500 miles at almost the speed of light and looks for changes in the journey.

Craig Dukes: And we just get, every day, just a handful of interactions in our detector.

Charles Fishburne: Scientist believe the NOvA experiment will help them to understand energy, matter, space and time and perhaps even the question…” to be or not to be.”

But something tipped the balance and you think the Neutrino might help you figure out what it was.

Craig Dukes: Exactly

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