Spaceship Neutrino

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 15, 1992 - Science - 244 pages
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Try to imagine a spaceship that could pass right through the Earth without even noticing it was there. And one that could cross the vastness of space at the speed of light, and then penetrate into the very heart of subatomic matter to seek out its fundamental structure. Imagine, then, a particle that is almost nothing that can tell you almost everything about the structure of matter and the evolution of the Universe. Impossible? In fact, all of these descriptions can be applied to the neutrino, a subatomic particle that is so elusive it is almost undetectable. Spaceship Neutrino charts the history of the neutrino, from its beginnings in the 1930s, when it was postulated as a way of explaining an otherwise intractable problem in physics, to its crucial role in modern theories of the Universe. Christine Sutton is well known for her popular science writing. In this book she describes how the detection and measurement of neutrino properties have tested technology to its limits, requiring huge detectors, often located deep in mines, under mountains or even under the sea. As part of the story she explains without the use of mathematics how our understanding of the structure of matter and the forces that hold it together have come from work with neutrinos, and how these insignificant particles hold the key to our understanding of the beginning and the end of the Universe. This fascinating, well-written and highly illustrated book will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in modern physics or astronomy, from school level right through to the professional scientist.
  

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Contents

The neutrino hypothesis
7
What is a neutrino?
32
How many neutrinos?
71
Nuclear spaceships
108
Solar spaceships
148
Cosmic spaceships
184
Moonbase neutrino
227
Sources of quotations
234
Index
240
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