By Matthew Malek
TALK BY MATTHEW MALEK
1st March 2019
“What’s Nu in Neutrino Astronomy”
Once again Matthew did not disappoint. His talk was funny and lively as well as informative.
He told us that the value of neutrinos as messengers from the cosmos was recognised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science with the award of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physics to Ray Davis and Masatoshi Koshiba for pioneering the field of neutrino astronomy. From Davis’s first measurements of solar neutrinos in the 1960s at the Homestake experiment to Koshiba’s detection of neutrinos from Supernova 1987A in the Kamiokande -II detector, neutrino astronomy had already accomplished much.
He described the three kinds of neutrinos – electron, muon and tau. There were a number of questions around them and Matthew complimented the questioners on the quality of their enquiries.
He told us of one detector built underground with mattresses at the bottom. The idea being they dropped an object whilst detonating an atomic bomb and measure the neutrinos that were present. He jokingly told us it never passed Health and Safety thank goodness!
He went on to bring us up to date telling us of the first detection of high energy cosmic neutrinos from the IceCube observatory at the South Pole in 2012 IceCube followed on from that by detecting neutrinos from a blazar in 2018 that were paired with optical observations – a remarkable first for multi-messenger astronomy.
He told us of the project to increase the size of IceCube -Gen2 and describe future discoveries that astronomical neutrinos have in store for us. Unfortunately it will not be built for five or six years.
What we need is another astronomical event such as a supernova so more detection work can be done. Anyone know of an imminent event?
If you wish to learn more on Neutrinos and the IceCube project visit; icecube.wisc.edu/info/neutrinos.
When I saw Matthew off the premises he said “I like coming to your society because of the interaction with the members; something I don’t get with my students”. Praise indeed.