Experts were already treating the discovery as a sensation, even with the term “Nobel Prize-worthy”: In 2018, scientists from the “Miniboone” experiment at the US research laboratory Fermilab near Chicago called it presented. A strange excess of electron neutrinos in their measurements, which did not fit the classical Standard Model of elementary particles. But new data from the follow-up experiment “MicroBooN” now show: nothing. “The results are either in line with or slightly below expectations for the booster neutrino beam rate, and no excess of electron neutrinos is observed,” In the current issue of »Physical Review Letters, the research group writes, Goodbye Nobel Prize.
The “MiniBuNE” experiment, initially started in 2002, aimed to confirm the results of the LSND neutrino experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory from the 1990s, which had measured many electron neutrinos for the first time. The discovery caused irritation at the time, as there was no clear explanation. So experts speculate that these may be “sterile” neutrinos that interact less than their relatives, the electron, muon, and tau neutrinos, which are already shy. If this turns out to be true, as physicists hoped and still hope, some unanswered questions in the universe may come to a close, such as the discovery of dark matter or even the world thread. And indeed, the excitement in 2018 was great,
In such measurements, scientists investigate what is known as a neutrino oscillation – a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which neutrinos are constantly changing into each other. This behavior was first observed in the 1960s, when scientists measured far fewer neutrinos emitted by the Sun than expected. But it took decades and a lot of experimental work to conclusively prove that these “missing” neutrinos didn’t just disappear as they traveled to Earth, but had turned into the other two neutrino types.
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