Dark Matters

For the first time researchers have found evidence neutrinos have mass, a key finding that could explain where all that dark matter we haven’t been able to find is hiding:

In the new experiment, physicists captured a muon neutrino in the process of transforming into a tau neutrino. Researchers had strongly believed that such transformations occur because they have been able to observe the disappearance of muon neutrinos in a variety of experiments.

But the research announced Monday marks the first time that the appearance of a tau neutrino has been directly observed. …

Astrophysicists have inferred the existence of dark matter from their observations that the total amount of visible matter is insufficient to account for gravitational effects. It is estimated that dark matter accounts for 80% of the mass of the universe and visible matter only 20%.

The new finding is important because in the theories now used to explain the behavior of fundamental particles, called the Standard Model, neutrinos have no mass. But if they have no mass, they cannot oscillate between muon and tau forms. The fact that they do oscillate indicates that they have mass and that the fundamentals of the Standard Model need some reworking, at the very least.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Mithras says:

    From the article:

    The finding concerns the behavior of neutrinos, ghost-like particles that travel at the speed of light.

    Huh. I thought anything with mass couldn’t travel at lightspeed.

  2. Michael says:

    Huh. I thought anything with mass couldn’t travel at lightspeed.

    You are correct. Measurements of Neutrino speed has always shown them to travel very near the speed of light, but not accurate enough to determine if they where traveling at c or slightly below. Given that we now know that neutrinos have mass, we know that their max. speed will be ever so slightly less than c.