Step inside Super Kamiokande. The 11,129 ‘lightbulbs’ in a tank deep underground is helping capture clues to the origins of life.
Neutrinos are tiny, ghost-like particles. They come from different sources, like our sun and nuclear reactors. They also come from supernovae. Supernovae contain the building blocks of life, so by studying neutrinos, we can explore our own origins.
But we don’t actually know what neutrinos look like — they’re smaller than an atom, and they travel at the speed of light. So spotting them is virtually impossible.
That’s where Super Kamiokande comes in. This $140 million science experiment is a massive water tank. Lining the tank walls are gold-hued detectors called photomultiplier tubes. They’re super sensitive – if they were on the moon, they would be able to see a match being lit from Earth. They work as lightbulbs in reverse, and they’re the key to spotting a neutrino. When a neutrino collides with a water molecule, it creates a miniscule flash, setting off the detectors.
But the PMTs aren’t sensitive enough – the tank is getting a major upgrade so the detectors will be able to look 35,000 times further into space. The water in the tank is also getting a change – scientists are adding the element gadolinium to the water.
Read more here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-17/inside-super-kamiokande-360-tour/11209104
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