US Lab to Test Light-Speed Neutrinos

America's most powerful physics experiment, the Fermilab particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois, is planning to test the results of a European experiment that claims to have seen the impossible.

What's the Latest Development?


America's most powerful physics experiment, the Fermilab particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois, is set to test the controversial conclusion of a European lab which claimed to observe neutrinos breaking the speed of light. Neutrinos, a slippery subatomic particle, are extremely difficult to detect so a dual beam of them will be shot through two detectors: one at Fermilab and the other at a mine in Minnesota some 735 kilometers away. In addition to measuring the speed of the neutrinos, the experiment will also assess 'neutrino oscillation'.

What's the Big Idea?

The American physics community heaved a collective sigh after Fermilab closed its most powerful acceleratorthough the laboratory houses nine othershanding the distinction of having the world's most powerful machine to Europe's Large Hadron Collider at CERN, outside Geneva. When spring arrives, the LHC will resume its hunt for the Higgs boson, a particle thought to endow matter with mass. But no one lab can do it all and Fermilab is looking to innovate in experiments which require less overall power but greater energy intensities.

Photo credit: Besselfunctions/Wikimedia Commons

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