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AMANDA May Find Probes To Other Dimensions

AMANDA, an enormous neutrino-tracking "telescope" buried in the Antarctic ice, may be able to provide evidence of extra dimensions.


(AMANDA installation [Univ. Wisc.])

AMANDA, which stands for Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array, looks like a good spot to reshoot The Thing. The array first went operational in 1997; it detects the high-energy form of neutrinos, which has more than 10,000 times the energy of low-energy neutrinos emitted by the sun.


(AMANDA's optical sensors)

Amanda consists of an array of 677 bowling ball-sized optical sensors that are sunk in the ice, suspended by their fiber-optic cables like beads on a necklace. The array is cylindrical, measuring 500 meters in height by 120 meters in diameter.


(AMANDA array)

When a rare high-energy neutrino crashes into another particle like a proton or a neutron, a muon emerges and creates a flashlike trail of blue Cerenkov radiation. The trail is picked up by the array of suspended optical sensors.

According to a paper this month in Physical Review Letters, results from the array suggest that particles from space detected by the array could indeed serve as probes to higher dimensions than our ordinary three. Advocates of string theory have long hoped that neutrinos might provide a way to prove their theory.

The next version of the array, called IceCube, will be much larger and capable of a thirty-fold increase in resolution.

Science fiction writer James Blish, writing in 1958 in his epochal Cities in Flight novels, also refered to the possibility of building a probe that could travel into higher dimensions:

As it eventually worked out, the inter-universal messenger had to be constructed from the sub-microscopic level on up out of fundamental nuclear particles which came as close to being nothing at all as either universe would ever be likely to provide: zero-spin particles with various charges and masses, and neutrino/anti-neutrino pairs. Even detecting that the object was present at all after it had been built was an almost impossible task, for neutrinos and anti-neutrinos have no mass and no charge, consisting instead partly of spin, partly of energy of translation; it did no good to try to visualize such particles since like all the fundamental particles they were entirely outside of experience in the macroscopic world. Matter was so completely transparent to them that stopping an average neutrino in flight would require a lead barrier fifty light years thick.

See the short article here; see also more information about AMANDA. Thanks to Winchell Chung for providing the tip and the quote for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/27/2006)

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