China Joins Pursuit To Uncover Neutrino Mystery

China’s new underground neutrino laboratory project will help scientists better understand the neutrino mass hierarchy.

AsianScientist (Apr. 8, 2014) – China has joined its counterparts India and Japan to address one of the biggest questions of physics and the universe. Researchers at the US$330 million Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO), scheduled for completion in 2020, will work alongside colleagues at the Indian Neutrino Observatory, Japan’s Hyper-Kamiokande and others, to study the properties of a fundamental particle known as the neutrino.

Located in Kaiping City, Guangdong province, 150 kilometers west of Hong Kong, JUNO will be built by the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP), a research center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It will investigate relationships between the three different classes of neutrinos: electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino.

Neutrinos are electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particles possessing what is called a half-integer spin. First postulated to exist by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli, neutrinos were experimentally detected in the 1950s and constituted the breakthrough behind the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physics.

To this day, physicists continue to perform experiments attempting to determine the relative masses of the three kinds of neutrinos, otherwise known as the neutrino mass hierarchy. Understanding the neutrino mass hierarchy may lead to a better understanding of the elementary physical particles, which in turn could have huge implications for physical models of the universe.

According to sources at IHEP, China’s positive experience in operating the Daya Bay neutrino experiment for the last three years augurs well for JUNO.

More than 30 international institutions from countries including France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and the US have expressed interest in joining JUNO.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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Alan Aw is a maths enthusiast who likes sharing the fun and beauty of science with others. Besides reading, he enjoys running, badminton, and listening to (and occasionally playing) Bach or Zez Confrey.

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