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Scientists probe nature’s most mysterious particle – neutrinos


London: Physicists are probing nature’s most mysterious particle -neutrinos – which they hope could be the key to understanding how the universe evolved over time.

Scientists also hope that the particles will teach us more about deep-space events like supernovas, active galaxies and gamma-ray bursts.

“Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies every second, but you don’t notice; they pass through space and the Earth with almost no effect,” said Francesca Di Lodovico of Queen Mary’s Particle Physics Research Centre (QMPPRC) in London.

“This makes neutrinos very difficult to study and yet they are thought to play a fundamental role in the formation of the universe and understanding where we came from,” added Di Lodovico.

QMPPRC is the sole recipient of the T2K experiment data. The T2K collaboration is a 500-strong alliance of scientists in 12 countries who have come together to investigate the ghostly neutrino.

Neutrinos come from outer space, either shot out from the sun, or left over from the Big Bang. But despite their abundance, techniques to understand their nature have only been developed in the last few decades, yielding surprising results.

“Theories predict there should be three types of neutrinos,” Di Lodovico explained. “Unexpectedly, early data seems to suggest that they can change type from one to another, an observation which has profound implications on our understanding of the universe.”

By firing the most intense neutrino beam ever designed, underground from Tokai on the east coast of Japan to a detector on the country’s west coast, it is now possible to observe what happens to the particles as they travel through our planet, said a QMPPRC release.

Di Lodovico says: “T2K will quickly advance our understanding of the strange properties of the enigmatic neutrino to unprecedented precision. Within a year, we will be able to explore neutrino properties beyond the reach of current experiments and shed light on the unknown.”