From Symmetry/Breaking: “Physicists mobilize to rescue U.S. neutrino experiment”

Kathryn Grim
April 4, 2012

“Neutrino physicists in the U.S. have begun to regroup after a disappointing setback last week, when they learned the Department of Energy would not support the budget of a major proposed experiment.

The silver lining, as they see it, is that they have the chance to reevaluate their plans and find a path forward. DOE officials asked Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to study ways to make the costs of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment more manageable, such as dividing its construction into stages or working with an existing neutrino beam.

LBNE collaboration members during a meeting at Fermilab.

‘On the one hand, we’re of course disappointed that we cannot do the whole experiment at once,’ said Pier Oddone, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. ‘On the other hand, we’re encouraged. So long as we can get to the ultimate physics goals, we are happy.’

LBNE scientists hope to explore unanswered questions about neutrinos, some of the most abundant but least understood particles in the universe. Neutrinos have been surprising physicists since they were first discovered in 1956. Not only did they unexpectedly turn out to have mass, contrary to predictions from the Standard Model of particle physics; scientists also discovered that they mysteriously morph from one type to another mid-flight.

The LBNE collaboration includes more than 300 scientists and engineers from 51 institutions in the United States and 10 institutions in India, Italy, Japan and the UK. Current plans would place the larger of LBNE’s two neutrino detectors underground in Homestake Mine in South Dakota, now the Sanford Underground Research Facility, which is managed by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.”

Symmetrybreaking is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication