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Comparing the Kamiokande and Homestake experiments


How the Kamiokande experiment worked
Hans Bethe Scientist
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It used simply water and in water you have of course electrons and the neutrinos can collide with the electrons and simply bring the electrons to high velocity and then you have a high energy electron which goes through the water and as it does so it emits Cerenkov Radiation which can be observed by photomultipliers which you put around the water tank. Well, the Kamiokande experiment I think has something like 7000 tons of water of which only 2000 are useful because the outer ones can be subject to particles coming from.. from the... container. But the inner 2000 tons are useful and you observe the Cerenkov radiation coming from those and with Cerenkov radiation you have the great advantage of observing these neutrinos as they are actually captured in... in the water and therefore you can determine not only the time of arrival but also the direction of arrival. And the Kamiokande people were able to show that... that many of these neutrinos came from an angle close to the direction of the sun. So it was really well established that these neutrinos really come from the sun.

The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as the H-bomb's midwife. He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Kamiokande experiment, Kamioka Neutron Detector Experiment, neutrinos, electrons, sun, Cerenkov Radiation

Duration: 2 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008