. 24/7 Space News .
What Does 'Almost Nothing' Weigh? FSU Physicist Aims To Find Out

Tallahassee FL (SPX) Nov 09, 2005
If subatomic particles had personalities, neutrinos would be the ultimate wallflowers. One of the most basic particles of matter in the universe, they've been around for 14 billion years and permeate every inch of space, but they're so inconceivably tiny that they've been called "almost nothing" and pass straight through things - for example, the Earth - without a bump.

So it's easy to see why no one thought they existed until the 1930s, and why it wasn't until the 1950s that scientists were finally able to confirm their inconspicuous presence. It's also easy to see why their masses, once believed to be zero, remain so elusive, but could help unlock the universe's mysteries on everything from dark matter to the births of galaxies.

With a Precision Measurement Grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that will provide up to $150,000 in funding over three years, Florida State University research physicist Edmund G. Myers, in Tallahassee, Fla., and student researchers hope to meet part of that challenge by measuring the precise difference in mass of tritium, a form of hydrogen, and helium-3 atoms. This will help pin down the mass of the electron neutrino.

To make such a measurement, Myers will use the state-of-the-art Penning trap that he brought to FSU from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003. It's arguably the most precise equipment made for the purpose of determining atomic mass.

"With neutrino mass, the game is to keep lowering the upper limit until you find it," Myers said.

Right now, that ceiling is around 2 electron Volts (eV). Myers' work, combined with results from other experiments, could drop this by a factor of at least 10, to 0.2 eV or even lower. By comparison, an electron, which is probably the lightest commonly known subatomic particle, has a mass of 511,000 eV.

Myers was one of two recipients of this year's Precision Measurement Grants, which the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been awarding since 1970. Among the 34 applications, Myers' research stood out because it so snugly fit the institute's mission to support physics research at the most fundamental level, said Peter Mohr, the institute's grant program manager.

"What he's doing is very precise measurements," Mohr said. "The results are very important."

Related Links
Florida State University
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Quantum Chaos
Garching, Germany (SPX) Nov 07, 2005
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, investigating the chaotic behaviour of the quantum world, have been able to give the first ever demonstration of quantum chaos during atom ionisation. Using laser light, they released electrons from rubidium in a strong electromagnetic field.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.