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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Neutrino Hunters: A Detective Story with Cosmic Implications

December 4, 2013, 12:00 PM
Neutrinoss

Neutrino particles, dubbed the "poltergeists of physics," are subatomic particles that are considered to be the fundamental building blocks of our universe. The existence of these particles was first proposed in 1930 by the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and later confirmed in an experiment in 1956.

The word neutrino, meaning "small neutral one," was coined by the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who helped develop the atom bomb with Robert Oppenheimer. Fermi is just one of an intriguing cast of characters who hunted down this particle over many decades. Another is Ettore Majorana, who disappeared at sea under mysterious circumstances in 1938. 

The story of the quest to find the neutrino, and the exciting new research around this particle, is the subject of Ray Jayawardhana's new book, Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

Jayawardhana is an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto. Hailed as "the new dean of popular science," Jayawardhana's discoveries have made headlines worldwide and led to accolades such as the Steacie Prize, the McLean Award, and a Radcliffe Fellowship. We are pleased to announce that Jayawardhana will be appearing in a video interview on Big Think next week. We encourage readers to submit questions for our consideration in the comments below.

We are interested to hear Jayawardhana explain the implications of neutrino research. Scientists have detected neutrinos from extraterrestrial sources, possibly from outside our solar system. This cutting-edge field can give us clues about the inner workings and life cycles of stars. Neutrino detection experiments may also lead to the ability to detect nuclear weapons development from afar. Moreover, our understanding of neutrinos might help us solve one of the greatest questions of all time - why matter won out over antimatter, or why we are here. 

Image above is the interior of the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector

 

Neutrino Hunters: A Detecti...

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