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The neutrino and its friends Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe.

They are also one of the least understood. Neutrinos are similar to the more familiar electron, with one crucial difference: neutrinos do not carry electric charge. Because neutrinos are electrically neutral, they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces which act on electrons. Neutrinos are affected only by a "weak" subatomic force of much shorter range than electromagnetism, and are therefore able to pass through great distances in matter without being affected by it. If neutrinos have mass, they also interact gravitationally with other massive particles, but gravity is by far the weakest of the four known forces. Three types of neutrinos are known; there is strong evidence that no additional neutrinos exist, unless their properties are unexpectedly very different from the known types. Each type or "flavor" of neutrino is related to a charged particle (which gives the corresponding neutrino its name). Hence, the "electron neutrino" is associated with the electron, and two other neutrinos are associated with heavier versions of the electron called the muon and the tau (elementary particles are frequently labelled with Greek letters, to confuse the layman). The table below lists the known types of neutrinos (and their electrically charged partners). Neutrino Charged Partner ne electron (e) nm muon (m) nt tau (t)

A Brief History of the Neutrino 1931 - A hypothetical particle is predicted by the theorist Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli based his prediction on the fact that energy and momentum did not appear to be conserved in certain radioactive decays. Pauli suggested that this missing energy might be carried off, unseen, by a neutral particle which was escaping detection. 1934 - Enrico Fermi develops a comprehensive theory of radioactive decays, including Pauli's hypothetical particle, which Fermi coins the neutrino (Italian: "little neutral one"). With inclusion of the neutrino, Fermi's theory accurately explains many experimentally observed results. 1959 - Discovery of a particle fitting the expected characteristics of the neutrino is announced by Clyde Cowan and Fred Reines (a founding member of Super-Kamiokande; UCI professor emeritus and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in physics for his contribution to the discovery). This neutrino is later determined to be the partner of the electron. 1962 - Experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory and CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Physics make a surprising discovery: neutrinos produced in association with muons do not behave the same as those produced in association with electrons. They have, in fact, discovered a second type of neutrino (the muon neutrino). 1968 - The first experiment to detect (electron) neutrinos produced by the Sun's burning (using a liquid Chlorine target deep underground) reports that less than half the expected neutrinos are observed. This is the origin of the long-standing "solar neutrino problem." The

possibility that the missing electron neutrinos may have transformed into another type (undetectable to this experiment) is soon suggested, but unreliability of the solar model on which the expected neutrino rates are based is initially considered a more likely explanation. 1978 - The tau particle is discovered at SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. It is soon recognized to be a heavier version of the electron and muon, and its decay exhibits the same apparent imbalance of energy and momentum that led Pauli to predict the existence of the neutrino in 1931. The existence of a third neutrino associated with the tau is hence inferred, although this neutrino has yet to be directly observed. 1985 - The IMB experiment, a large water detector searching for proton decay but which also detects neutrinos, notices that fewer muon-neutrino interactions than expected are observed. The anomaly is at first believed to be an artifact of detector inefficiencies. 1985 - A Russian team reports measurement, for the first time, of a non-zero neutrino mass. The mass is extremely small (10,000 times less than the mass of the electron), but subsequent attempts to independently reproduce the measurement do not succeed. 1987 - Kamiokande, another large water detector looking for proton decay, and IMB detect a simultaneous burst of neutrinos from Supernova 1987A. 1988 - Kamiokande, another water detector looking for proton decay but better able to distinguish muon neutrino interactions from those of electron neutrino, reports that they observe only about 60% of the expected number of muon-neutrino interactions. 1989 - The Frejus and NUSEX experiments, much smaller than either Kamiokande or IMB, and using iron rather than water as the neutrino target, report no deficit of muon-neutrino interactions. 1989 - Experiments at CERN's Large Electron-Positron (LEP) accelerator determine that no additional neutrinos beyond the three already known can exist. 1989 - Kamiokande becomes the second experiment to detect neutrinos from the Sun, and confirms the long-standing anomaly by finding only about 1/3 the expected rate. 1990 - After an upgrade which improves the ability to identify muon-neutrino interactions, IMB confirms the deficit of muon neutrino interactions reported by Kamiokande. 1994 - Kamiokande finds a deficit of high-energy muon-neutrino interactions. Muonneutrinos travelling the greatest distances from the point of production to the detector exhibit the greatest depletion. 1994 - The Kamiokande and IMB groups collaborate to test the ability of water detectors to distinguish muon- and electron-neutrino interactions, using a test beam at the KEK accelerator laboratory. The results confirm the validity of earlier measurements. The two groups will go on to form the nucleus of the Super-Kamiokande project. 1996 - The Super-Kamiokande detector begins operation. 1997 - The Soudan-II experiment becomes the first iron detector to observe the disappearance of muon neutrinos. The rate of disappearance agrees with that observed by Kamiokande and IMB. 1997 - Super-Kamiokande reports a deficit of cosmic-ray muon neutrinos and solar electron neutrinos, at rates agreeing with measurements by earlier experiments. 1998 - The Super-Kamiokande collaboration announces evidence of non-zero neutrino mass at the Neutrino '98 conference.

The Detector The Super-Kamiokande detector is a 50,000 ton tank of water, located approximately 1 km underground. The water in the tank acts as both the target for neutrinos, and the detecting medium for the by-products of neutrino interactions. The inside surface of the tank is lined with 11,146 50-cm diameter light collectors called "photo-multiplier tubes". In addition to the inner detector, which is used for physics studies, an additional layer of water called the outer detector is also instrumented light sensors to detect any charged particles entering the central volume, and to shield it by absorbing any neutrons produced in the nearby rock. In addition to the light collectors and water, a forest of electronics, computers, calibration devices, and water purification equipment is installed in or near the detector cavity. Above: A view from inside the SuperKamiokande tank during filling Below: Illustration of the conical geometry of Cherenkov radiation.

Cherenkov Light

To detect the high-energy particles which result from neutrino interactions, Super-Kamiokande exploits a phenomenon known as Cherenkov radiation. Charged particles (and only charged particles) traversing the water with a velocity greater than 75% of the speed of light radiate light in a conical pattern around the direction of the track, as at left. Bluish Cherenkov light is transmitted through the highly-pure water of the tank, and eventually falls on the inner wall of the detector, which is covered with photo-multiplier tubes (PMT's). These PMT's are each sensitive to illumination by a single photon of light - a light level approximately the same as the light visible on Earth from a candle at the distance of the moon! Each PMT measures the total amount of light reaching it, as well as the time of arrival. These measurements are used to reconstruct energy and starting position, respectively, of any particles passing through the water. Equally important, the array of over 11,000 PMTs samples the projection of the distinctive ring pattern, which can be used to determine the direction of a particle. Finally, the details of the ring pattern - most notably whether it has the sharp edges characteristic of a muon, or the fuzzy, blurred edges characteristic of an electron, can be used to reliably distinguish muon-neutrino and electronneutrino interactions.

Neutrino Interactions Since neutrinos themselves cannot be directly detected, Super-Kamiokande detects the byproducts of their interactions inside the water volume of the detector and the nearby rock outside. Two sources of neutrinos are available for our studies. "Atmospheric" neutrinos are produced when cosmic ray particles from outer space collide with the Earth's atmosphere, producing a spray of secondary particles including electron- and muon-neutrinos. Neutrinos are produced in the atmosphere above Super-Kamiokande, and everyplace else on Earth. Hence neutrinos produced on the opposite side of the Earth actually pass all the way through the Earth, and arrive at the detector from below. In addition to neutrinos produced in the Earth's atmosphere, the Sun is also a source of neutrinos. These are produced in the complex chain of reactions which generate the Sun's power. These "solar" neutrinos are all of the electron type, and are considerably lower in energy than atmospheric ones. As a result the solar neutrino analysis is inherently more difficult since radioactive decays of materials in and around the detector create charged particles of comparable energy. Five distinct classes of data are analyzed, classified by whether the neutrinos come from the Sun or the Earth, and in the latter case, whether products of the neutrino interaction enter and/or exit the detector. Click on the links below to find out more about each type of neutrino data:

Atmospheric Neutrino Interaction Occurs: Inside Detector No Exiting Particles? FullyContained Outside Detector Stopping Muon Throughgoing Muon Solar Neutrinos

PartiallyYes Contained

A neutrino identity crisis? The strange disappearance of both atmospheric muon neutrinos and solar electron neutrinos can be understood as a process of "neutrino oscillation". What that means is that, given the proper conditions, a neutrino of one type can change into one of a different type; if all three neutrinos have a mass of zero, or even the same mass of any value, this would not be allowed. If neutrinos have mass and therefore are able to change their stripes, both the atmospheric and solar neutrino anomalies could be solved. This is because muon neutrinos from the atmosphere which oscillate into tau neutrinos would be experimentally undetectable (in a practical sense). Similarly, if electron neutrinos from the Sun change into muon or tau neutrinos, they too will interact at a significantly lower rate. Why "oscillation"? The term neutrino "oscillation" was coined because the transition between neutrino types is not one-way. In other words, a muon neutrino which (say) transforms into the tau type will actually transform back and forth as it sails along. This process is a probabilistic consequence of quantum mechanics. Given a neutrino produced as a certain type, after travelling a certain distance, the neutrino will become a mixture of two (or three) types. A rigorous mathematical explanation of neutrino oscillation is beyond the scope of this introduction, but the outlines can be sketched out for the simplified case where there are only two neutrinos involved in the process. It is not an easy phenomenon to explain without resorting to math, but those willing to read on may find some of their questions answered. For the truly curious, a mathematical derivation using quantum mechanics is also available. It has long been known that particles of matter behave, in some circumstances, akin to waves instead (the effect has been observed for electrons and many other familiar particles. When particles behave like waves, they exhibit a sort of frequency which is proportional to their energy . Normally, this behavior is unimportant, since no physically observable quantity depends on whether the particle at a peak or a trough along its "matter wave". Catching a wave The situation changes, however, if one wave can undergo "interference" with another. Interference has a very specific meaning in connection with wave behavior, namely it either means one wave's "peaks" add together with another wave's "peaks" to produce an even bigger peak ("constructive interference") or one wave's peaks add together with another wave's troughs to cancel out both waves ("destructive interference"). When two waves moving together add or subtract in this way, there is still no dramatic effect if the waves have the same wavelength (or equivalently, frequency), since in that case the resulting wave is simpler a larger or smaller copy of the original ones.

If, on the other hand, the interfering waves have different frequencies, the resulting wave is not simply an enlarged or reduced version of either of the original waves. In fact, the resulting wave has no definite wavelength; at some points the two waves interfere constructively, and at others they interfere destructively. At points where one wave is crossing zero (i.e. steeply rising or falling) and the other is at a minimum or maximum (i.e. is approximately flat), the combined wave appears to have the frequency of the first wave. At other points, the situation is reversed and the combined wave has a frequency close to that of the second wave. The frequency at which this phenomenon repeats is related to the arithmetic difference in the two original frequencies. In effect the combined wave changes its behavior from being like one wave to being like the other with a new frequency equal to the difference in the individual frequencies. In the case of a matter wave, where the particle has a mass much smaller than its energy, it can be shown that the frequency is proportional to the square of the mass, divided by the momentum. What's intefering? This is getting to sound a pretty similar to neutrino oscillation (waves alternating back and forth between different characteristics). It sounds great, except if a given neutrino is one matter wave, where is the other matter wave which is interfering with it to produce this flip-flopping? The answer is that (in our simplified case of two neutrinos) the neutrino actually interferes with itself. Putting it another way, a neutrino can propagate not as a single wave, but as pre-packaged combination of two. The reason is that neutrinos are produced in weak interactions, as either an electron neutrino, a muon neutrino, or a tau neutrino. But what if the electron neutrino itself acts like one of our combined waves? That is, what if the electron neutrino does not have a definite mass, but instead acts like our schizophrenic wave? Mixing it up That is the unstated premise of neutrino oscillation; an electron neutrino, when produced must be in a quantum mechanical state which has, in effect two different masses. A muon neutrino is a similar, complementary mixture of the two masses. Conversely, a neutrino with exactly one, definite mass must be a mixture of electron and muon neutrinos. So when an electron neutrino (and its combined matter wave) is produced and starts to propagate, the two different mass values interfere with each other. Depending on the difference in frequency between the two waves, the initial electron neutrino combined wave will sometimes be dominated by one or the other waves subcomponents which has a specific mass and frequency. But if a neutrino with a definite mass is a mixture of both electron and muon neutrinos (this pre-condition for oscillation is termed "mixing"), what started as a pure electron neutrino with a mixture of masses has become a neutrino with a pure mass and a mixture of electron neutrino and muon neutrino properties. In fact the combined electron neutrino matter wave, as the two matter wave components with different masses irregularly add and cancel with each other, may even at times very closely resemble the combined muon neutrinomatter wave. If the neutrino interacts a point where it is not in a definite state of being either an electron neutrino or a muon neutrino, which one it behaves like at that moment is anybody's guess.

Conclusion or Confusion? The above is an attempt to sketch out the plausibility of the idea of neutrino oscillations and the implication of unequal (and hence non-zero) neutrino mass if the phenomenon is observed. It may reassure the skeptical reader to know that an essentially identical interference/mixing/oscillation scenario has in fact been experimentally observed for 20 years between two other subatomic particles called kaons. There is no question that if neutrino have different (non-zero) masses, and if they mix so that each neutrino represents a mixture of two or more different masses, neutrino oscillations will occur. Similarly, there is no known or imagined mechanism by which massless neutrinos would oscillate. Still think we're pulling your leg? In physics, an equation (or two) is worth a thousand words. Check our math as you follow along with the derivation! A Fair Question... ...and one physicists and cosmologists will be thinking and arguing about for awhile. nutshell, the areas of science likely to be affected by this finding are: Particle Physics While the Standard Model, which very accurately describes the interactions of elementary particles will most definitely not have to be rewritten, there will be less dramatic effects. The question of how particles acquire mass is one of the deepest unsolved mysteries of elementary particle physics. Neutrinos had been thought to be the only fundamental constituent of nature which did not have a mass. In light of this discovery, that long-standing belief will have to be revised. However, the Standard Model itself does not "predict" one way or another whether neutrinos have mass - this one of the many parameters of the model which must be input by hand. This is in fact one of the universally recognized shortcomings of the Standard Model, and why most physicists doubt it is the complete, final theory. A truly complete theory would predict the masses of the elementary particles rather than requiring them as inputs. The effects of the very small neutrino mass implied by the Super-Kamiokande result will probably be minimal in terms of affecting the quantitive predictions of the Standard Model. More promising is the prospect that knowledge of the existence of neutrino masses, and an estimate of their magnitude, will shed light on the larger question of how the particles have the mass that they do. With the discovery of neutrino mass, it now appears that mass is a property common to all matter - in itself a highly significant discovery. Cosmology The problem of missing mass or dark matter has received widespread exposure. In observational astronomy, gravitational influences are evident, within and among galaxies, which exceed those expected from the visible matter (i.e. stars). Neutrinos have been suggested as one source of this In a

gravitation, but the small neutrino masses implied by the Super-Kamiokande result may be insufficient to account for all, or even most, of it. More likely is renewed theoretical attention to the cosmological effects of neutrinos with mass. At the very least, the neutrino is the first serious particle physics dark matter candidate actually known to exist. It has also been suggested that neutrinos played a role in catalyzing the primordial density fluctuations which eventually grew into galaxies. This question is also likely to receive renewed attention, since neutrino mass - a prerequisite for any influence of this kind, has moved out of the realm of speculation and is headed into the domain of fact. Experimental Neutrino Physics In addition to theoretical pondering, a new wave of neutrino experiments - all using new techniques to uncover the secrets of the neutrino, is soon coming on line, and more are planned. Find out more with the link above.