Unanswered Questions

Beyond the Proton, Neutron, and Electron

How are neutrinos detected?

Neutrinos hardly interact at all with matter. Some 100 trillion pass through your body every second! Yet the chance that one interacts in your body over your lifetime is only one in four. For this reason neutrino detectors must be huge and can expect to detect only an extremely small fraction of the neutrinos striking them. Most detectors are large cavities filled with extremely pure water or mineral oil. Neutrino interactions result in flashes of light that are seen by sensitive phototubes. The detectors have identified neutrinos from the sun, from cosmic rays, a supernova, and from reactors and particle detectors. Some experiments have used beams of neutrinos that are aimed through Earth by a reactor or accelerator at a distant detector.


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