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The Secrets of Ghost Particle Hunting

3 Nov 2019, 11:36 UTC
The Secrets of Ghost Particle Hunting
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Every day is Halloween for physicist George Fuller, director for the Center of Astrophysics and Space Sciences at UC San Diego and one of the world’s leading “ghost” hunters.Fuller, a distinguished professor of physics at the university, has made his life’s work chasing down subatomic particles called neutrinos that are so mysterious they’re known as ghost particles. These ghosts are known to exist even though they’re virtually invisible, they can’t be touched and they remain little understood.So why do these dinky ghosts matter? They have been zooming around planet Earth since the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago, yet they were first revealed only in the 1930s. According to Fuller, they are so central to understanding the universe that their discovery has merited Nobel Prize awards. “By the ’50s, it was clear that you couldn't understand anything in physics without this particle,” he said.What makes neutrino ghost particles so special? “They have no electric charge, they have very small masses and we don't know what those masses are,” Fuller explained. "Still, we know they’re tiny. But we do know the differences of the squares of the masses.”It’s also known that neutrino ghost particles come in three varieties that physicists ...

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