Neutrinos seen scattering off an atom’s nucleus for the first time | Science News

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Neutrinos seen scattering off an atom’s nucleus for the first time

Ability to detect the tiny particles performing new trick allows for new tests of physicists’ theories

By
2:10pm, August 3, 2017
Juan Collar

NEUTRINO NABBER  A compact neutrino detector (prototype pictured with physicist Juan Collar of the COHERENT collaboration) has measured a new type of neutrino interaction. The 15-kilogram detector is much smaller than those used in previous experiments.

Famously sneaky particles have been caught behaving in a new way.

For the first time, scientists have detected neutrinos scattering off the nucleus of an atom. The process, predicted more than four decades ago, provides a new way to test fundamental physics. It will also help scientists to better characterize the neutrino, a misfit particle that has a tiny mass and interacts so feebly with matter that it can easily sail through the entire Earth.

The detection, reported online August 3 in Science, “has really big implications,” says physicist Janet Conrad of MIT, who was not involved with the research. It fills in a missing piece of the standard model, the theory that explains how particles behave: The model predicts that neutrinos interact with nuclei. And, says Conrad, the discovery “opens up a whole new area of measurements” to further test the standard model

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