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Watch a Nobel-Winning Physicist Talking About Hunting Neutrinos in a Mine

In a live webcast, Arthur McDonald explains how to catch a neutrino.

by Kate Lunau
Apr 13 2016, 10:30pm

Photo: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

How do you catch a neutrino? By going deep underground—and on April 13 at 7 PM, Nobel-winning neutrino catcher Arthur McDonald will explain exactly how. Watch it live, here on Motherboard.

Neutrinos flow from the sun, from the Earth, from space—even from bananas—all the time, and trillions of them pass through our bodies every single second. But they're extremely difficult to detect, which is why scientists call them "ghost particles."

To study neutrinos, McDonald, a physicist from Sydney, Nova Scotia, went deep underground, more than 1.2 miles below the Earth's surface, into a nickel mine near the northern Ontario town of Sudbury. (The pressure is so high down there that people have been known to get headaches, even to faint.) There, they built a massive neutrino detector with 1,000 tonnes of heavy water—a huge feat in itself—deep underground, where it would be shielded from pesky cosmic rays.

Art McDonald, who led the SNO experiment. Photo: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), led by McDonald, found that neutrinos can slip from one "flavour" to another, and that they have mass. He won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for these discoveries, which were announced in 2002.

Meanwhile, the massive, underground, ultra-clean laboratory near Sudbury has been expanded into SNOLAB, and it's continuing to probe the mysteries of the universe—seeking out supernovae, hunting for dark matter, and learning more about neutrinos.

So, why go underground to learn more about the cosmos? McDonald will get into that in his talk, hosted live at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, and streamed here on Motherboard.

A team of Perimeter scientists will be available to answer any questions via Twitter or on Perimeter's Facebook page, using the hashtag #piLIVE.

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