Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good News: Scientists Have Settled the Issue of Whether or Not Neutrinos Have Anti-Matter – The Bad News: This Doesn’t Bring Down the Costs of a Starbucks Latte

Does Anti-matter matter?  No.  We Didn’t Think So

This Forum has often taken the scientific community to task for pursuing subjects and problems whose resolution has no bearing whatsoever on human existence and the quality of life.  We have raised the issue what good does putting men and women in space do for anyone, and whether determining why the universe is expanding at an increasing rate (simple answer:   the universe is expanding because it got a great deal on the vacant universe next door, complete with seller financing.) is really relevant.

Now we are learning that physicists are reaching some answers as to the nature of matter and anti-matter.

No We Don't Know What This is Either

HOT on the heels of results from Fermilab, in America, which reported last week on an esoteric phenomenon called charge-conjugation/parity (CP) violation involving equally esoteric subatomic particles known as D0-mesons, a second research group, the Daya Bay Collaboration of more than 40 institutions, mainly from China and America, has found a related result involving neutrinos.

Okay, The Dismal Political Economist has no idea what any of that means either, but if knowledge and comprehension were a requirement for commentary Fox News would have shut down years ago. 

Apparently the issue involves how and why neutrinos oscillate (maybe these are very young particles, and just can’t sit still).   Maybe this later statement in the report will clear things up.

The way neutrinos oscillate is described by three numbers called mixing angles, which determine how likely this spot-changing is for any pair of flavours. Two of the angles have been known for some time. The remaining one, theta-13, which governs the relationship between electron- and tau-neutrinos, has proved elusive. Last year two experiments, T2K in Japan and MINOS in America, found hints of what it might be. The results from Daya Bay have at last allowed it to be determined accurately. To many physicists’ relief, they have confirmed that it is not zero. This is crucial, because if it had been zero they would have no experimental purchase on a fourth parameter, called delta.

So physics can now go on to study a fourth parameter called delta.  Well hurray for them, and if they manage to solve the problem of world hunger in the process, well, we will be all the more happier for them.

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