When it comes to the beauty of science, it’s tough to beat the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment. This photo, courtesy of Berkeley Lab’s Roy Kaltschmidt, shows the photomultiplier tubes that line the walls of the massive underground detectors to amplify neutrino interactions. We’re members of the international collaboration trying to pin down the parameters of the famously elusive neutrino.
Neutrinos are more awesome than you can imagine. For starters, these itty-bitty beasties are:
- born in the hearts of stars and other fission furnaces
- subatomic shape-shifters, subtly dancing between flavors
- ghostlike, passing through planets and people unhindered and undetected
- hiding secrets about the birth of our universe
The Big Bang ought to have created the same amount of matter and antimatter, which would mean that life as we know it wouldn’t exist because those two frenemies annihilate when they meet. Obviously, that’s not how it turned out, but the ways that neutrinos switch from flavor to flavor might hold the key to the reason we have more matter than antimatter in the universe.