Updated: Tuesday June 5, 2012 13:23 local (Kyoto) time.
Day 1 Events
Sorry for the delay. The conference’s schedule is jammed packed, and not basking in a wireless cloud limits my access to the site. At any rate, Monday was a very productive day. For the first time under a single roof, all the nuclear reactor-based experiments showed their measurement of θ13, the physical quantity that stipulates the probability of two specific neutrinos turning into each other. θ13 (pronounced: theta-one-three) has been extensively covered here if you are interested in reading more about it. Herein lies the purpose of conferences: to allow experimentalists and theorists the opportunity to compare and contrast highly important results from similar experiments. Checking that everyone’s results agree also shows the importance of redundant experiments.
As I mentioned, the conference open with Laureate Jack Steinberger giving a quite overview of the history of neutrinos. He paid quite a homage to his hero Bruno Pontecorvo for his everlasting contributions to physics. Pontecorvo is the definition of a man born ahead of his time. Not only did he first postulate that neutrinos could oscillate back in 1957 (first confirmed in 1998), he also recognized that the rate of detecting cosmic muons was comparable to the rate of radioactive (beta) decay. According to Steinberger, Pontecorvo’s result was largely ignored. Fermi himself “did not think there could be a relationship between the muon… and the electron. It was too much an intellectual jump.”
However, it was CERN’s historic Gargamelle Experiment that made Steinberger’s just beam with excitement. The experiment was the first to demonstrate evidence for the existence of the Z boson, the most unique prediction of the Electroweak Theory (Standard Model). He thinks of it as “the most important experiment ever done at CERN” and confirmation of the Electroweak Theory is the “most glorious result at cern.”
A rather interesting talk was a talk entitled “Application of Reactor Anti-Neutrinos.” Nuclear reactors are incredibly useful for physics because they are a controlled source of neutrinos. Unfortunately, plutonium is an inherent byproduct of nuclear reactors. However, we can look at this another way: plutonium-producing reactor is a generous producer of neutrinos. This clever rearrangement of words is the premise of one potential breakthrough in nuclear non-proliferation: uncovering the mass production of Pu via neutrinos. I have to run, but in short “the anti-nutrino has a possibility to monitor reactor operation and Pu contents in operation core.” It reminds me a bit of Laureate Luis Alvarez’s clever use of cosmic rays to image the internal structure of Egyptian pyramids.
– richard (@bravelittlemuon)
Greetings from Kyoto! The sun is high and the solar neutrino rate is brimming.
It is Day 1 of Neutrino 2012, an annual conference dedicated to all things neutrino, and today’s talks about about to begin shortly with a welcome from, count them: two Nobel laureates. The first is by Jack Steinberger, co-discoverer of the muon neutrino along with science education advocate Leon Lederman, on the present state of neutrinos, what we know about them, and what we definitely do not know. It is a highly appropriate talk to kick off such an important conference. The second talk is by Makoto Kobayashi, “K” of the famed CKM matrix, and is on the existence of neutrino masses and how that discovery has defined a generation of on-going research.
Okay, time for the bad news. There is no internet in the main lecture hall and, as a consequence, I cannot physically live-blog this week. This is a bit of a disappointment but check back here often for regular updates through the week. After an interesting conversation on the flight over here, I am expecting to hear some very interesting and very new results.
– richard (@bravelittlemuon)