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Implications about the neutrino masses


The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory experiment
Hans Bethe Scientist
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You can observe both the charged reaction which gives you two protons and an electron, and the neutral reaction which gives you a neutron and a proton. The charged reaction can only be made by an electron neutrino. The neutral reaction, however, can be made equally by a µ-neutrino and an electron neutrino. And therefore it should be possible in this manner to catch the µ-neutrinos and to catch the sum of µ-neutrinos plus electron neutrinos by the neutral reaction. So we are looking forward to this experiment with great anticipation. If the neutral reaction really is sufficiently strong as we predict, then we will have proved that the... the MSW theory is correct, that is that the electron neutrinos really convert in µ-neutrinos and those can then be observed.

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: Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, Mikheyev–Smirnov–Wolfenstein effect

Duration: 1 minute, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008