University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Physics and Astronomy Colloquia > Neutrino Oscillations - Past, Present, and Future

Neutrino Oscillations - Past, Present, and Future

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When Wolfgang Pauli first proposed the existence of a light, weakly interacting particle (subsequently dubbed “the neutrino” by Fermi) to solve some mysteries in nuclear decays he apologized for hypothesizing something that could not be detected (an example that modern theorists have not always followed). Luckily (at least for neutrino physicists!) he was right about the particle but wrong about the detection, as neutrinos have now been detected from reactors, radioactive sources, the sun, cosmic ray interactions in the atmosphere, accelerators, a supernova, and even from other galaxies. Those detections have allowed us to show that neutrinos have an even stranger property than Pauli imagined – they “oscillate” from one type to another in a way not allowed in their original formulation within the Standard Model of particle physics. These neutrino oscillations have given us the ability to see the effects of particle masses a million times smaller than the mass of an electron, and may provide a clue to the excess of matter over anti-matter in the universe. The talk will give a brief outline of the discovery of neutrino oscillations and then discuss the current state of our knowledge before wrapping up with a look at some of the exciting new projects which should teach us even more.

This talk is part of the Physics and Astronomy Colloquia series.

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