Unconfirmed neutrino sensation – spectrum of science

Experts were already treating the discovery as a sensation, even the word “Nobel Prize”: in 2018, scientists involved in the “MiniBooNE” experiment at the US research laboratory Fermilab near Chicago presented a mysterious surplus of electronic neutrinos in the their measurements, which was not part of the classic standard model of mounted elementary particles. But the new data from the “MicroBooNE” follow-up experiment now shows: nothing. ‘The results agree with or are slightly below expectations for booster neutrino beam speeds and no excess electron neutrinos are observed,’ writes the research team in the current issue of Physical Review Letters. Goodbye Nobel Prize.

The “MiniBooNE” experiment, initially started in 2002, was intended to confirm the result of the LSND neutrino experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1990s, in which too many electron neutrinos were measured for the first time. The discovery caused irritation at the time, because there was no obvious explanation. Experts have therefore hypothesized that these are “sterile” neutrinos that interact with matter even less than their relatives, electrons, muons and tau, who are already shy. If that happens, physicists hoped and still hope, some open questions in the universe could come closer, such as the search for dark matter or even the formula of the world. And indeed, the excitement in 2018 was great.

In such measurements, scientists examine what’s known as neutrino oscillation, a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which neutrinos constantly change into each other. This behavior was first observed in the 1960s, when scientists measured far fewer neutrinos emitted from the Sun than expected. But it took decades and a lot of experimental work to conclusively prove that these “missing” neutrinos had not disappeared on their way to Earth, but had simply transformed into the other two types of neutrinos.

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