Thursday, April 25, 2019

Search for Dark Matter Sheds Light on Neutrinos

Science works... spending on science is important because scientific inquiry in one topic often pays dividends in other areas of inquiry. Recently, a facility designed as a dark matter detector has observed a two-neutrino double electron capture, a radioactive decay process by which two protons in an atomic nucleus absorb two electrons and release two neutrinos. The next project will be to observe is a neutrinoless electron capture is possible, which would imply that neutrinos are their own antiparticles. The search is still on for dark matter, which is thought to compose 27% of the universe's makeup, but which only interacts with baryonic matter through the force of gravity.

My go-to authority on the... uhhhhh... matter of dark matter is Dr Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University, who delivered two Secret Science Club lectures on dark matter. Here's a TED talk by the good doctor on dark matter:

For a more in-depth exploration of the matter, the Fermilab has an hour and a half lecture by Dr Natarajan on dark matter and black holes. While the subject matter may be hard to wrap one's head around, I think that Dr Natarajan's almost musical accent makes the lecture fun to listen to even if you are physics averse.

The Secret Science Club also featured a lecture on neutrinos by Dr Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto. I am particularly enchanted with the idea of tying together our knowledge of the infinitesimally small universe within each atom with our knowledge of the mind-bogglingly vast multiverse. Science, I repeat, works.

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