Canada’s renowned astronomer hunts for the universe’smost elusive particle
Every second of every day and night, many trillions of neutrinospass through your body. But most people had never heard of them until they made headlines recently for possibly travelling faster than light. Luckily, these ghostly particles—celebrated in a delightful John Updike poem and (falsely) blamed for heating the Earth’s core in the Hollywood disaster movie 2012—do no harm and leave no trace. They are so difficult to pin down that scientists must use Olympic-sizepools of cleaning fluid deep underground and kilometre-thick sheets of Antarctic ice to catch just a handful. Yet the shadowy neutrinos hold the key to unlocking some of the biggest mysteries of the universe: What was the universe like seconds after the Big Bang? Why is anti-matter so rare? What triggers exploding stars?
The renowned astrophysicist and award-winning science writer Ray Jayawardhana tells us that neutrino research is now entering a brave new era and explains why these pathologically shy particles may spark a revolution in physics. Equally fascinating is the thrilling detective story of neutrino hunters, the scientists we meet on this exciting quest.
RAY JAYAWARDHANA, formerly a professor and the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, is dean of the faculty of science at York University. A graduate of Yale and Harvard, he has co-authored over 100 scientific papers. His discoveries have made headlines worldwide and have brought him numerous accolades, such as the Steacie Prize, the McLean Award, the Rutherford Medal and the Radcliffe Fellowship. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, Scientific American and other publications. The author of Strange New Worlds, he lives in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @DrRayJay and on the web at rayjay.net.
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