Los Alamos key player in new neutrino experiment

September 12, 2002

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., September 12, 2002 - A major experiment that could change how we understand the universe - designed in part by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists - has recorded its first neutrino events at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The Booster Neutrino Experiment, or MiniBooNE, will confirm or deny experimental evidence from researchers at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, who first reported in 1995 that one type of neutrino transforms into a different type, which suggests that neutrinos have mass and that a fourth type of neutrino may exist.

Bill Louis of Subatomic Physics (P-25) said the neutrino transformations, called oscillations, are most logically explained by the existence of a new type of neutrino.

"If MiniBooNE confirms the results of our experiment at Los Alamos, then there may be more kinds of particles in the universe than we have been assuming, which will require us to revise our standard model of physics," Louis said. "A big puzzle is what constitutes the dark matter and dark energy that make up a large fraction of the universe. The fact that neutrinos change type indicates they provide some of that mass, but the possible existence of additional types of neutrinos could really shake things up."

Members of the Los Alamos team who collaborated in designing and operating the MiniBooNE experiment are Louis, Jan Boissevain, Camilo Espinoza, Gerry Garvey, Gordon McGregor, Geoff Mills, Richard Schirato, Neil Thompson, Richard Van de Water and Hywel White, all of P-25; Vern Sandberg of Space and Remote Sensing Sciences (NIS-2); and Ben Sapp of Advanced Nuclear Technology (NIS-6).
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Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring safety and confidence in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction and improving the environmental and nuclear materials legacy of the cold war. Los Alamos' capabilities assist the nation in addressing energy, environment, infrastructure and biological security problems.

For more Los Alamos news, visit www.lanl.gov.

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

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