How to know a Neutrino from a Hole in the Ground

The day before yesterday – the 4th of July, 2016 – I was privileged enough to attend a talk by Art Mcdonald, a Nobel award winning Astrophysicist whose work as director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory proved that neutrinos have mass. Having already had a huge interest in Particle Physics, I was very excited to go, and my expectations were exceeded.

The talk was split into three sections: the basics of neutrinos and other fundamental particles, an explanation of the SNO project and how it solved the Solar Neutrino Problem, and the future endeavours of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, including SNO+, to gain more information on dark matter and double beta decay. As a result, I will split my posts in the same manner, in order to be able to explain those topics to the high degree that Art did himself.

The event had taken place in the Royal Institution – also known as the RI – in London, 5 minutes away from the Green Park Tube station. The RI has been the work place for many a famous scientist, including Michael Faraday and Henry Cavendish, who in fact helped found it. These scientists had the objective of making science accessible to the masses, and held talks weekly to do so, that were either free or cheap to attend, a legacy that is carried out even today.

I had also been lucky enough to talk to Mr Mcdonald at the end of the event, if only briefly, about the relationship between matter and mass, as well as how dark matter differs from the two. It was rather nerve wracking, but he was very kind and explained it to me in detail despite the simplicity of the question. There is a lot more I wish I could have asked, and I shall certainly be sending him an email soon. The experience was unforgettable for me, and I shall remember it for years to come. I encourage all those who have even a slight interest in science – or any subject for that matter – to search up local talks and take time out of your evening to attend them.

Forthcoming posts related to this talk:

A basic introduction to Particle Physics
The Solar Neutrino Problem & How to Solve it
The Future of the SNOLAB





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