“Dear Radioactive Ladies and Gentlemen”

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Just as I was finalizing this post, I found out that the new Tepper School of Business video on Quantum Computing was posted on social media. Enjoy!

Now to the post.

Unable to attend a 1930 conference on nuclear physics (in Tübingen, Germany) due to prior social obligations, Wolfgang Pauli (yes, of exclusion principle, and winner of 1945 Nobel), instead, addressed an informal letter to the attendees, with a bold proposal that a solution to the beta decay puzzle could be the existence of a new ghost particle, likely undetectable, that was electrically neutral, which Enrico Fermi (yes, of Fermi-Dirac statistics, and of course, fermions, and winner of 1938 Nobel) christened as Neutrino

A very satisfying movie (that is currently streaming on Amazon Prime) is Radioactive, with Rosamund Pike playing Marie Curie (1903 and 1911 Nobels). Also recommended is her (Pike, not Curie) movie A Private War (2018). Yes, these performances are a very different from what first catapulted her to fame, as a Bond girl, in Die Another Day (with Halle Berry).

Back to physics. If something is undetectable, does it exist?

Thankfully, experimental physicists decided to challenge themselves about the alleged undetectability of neutrinos, and came up with a maximally inverse approach, using inverse beta decay, and neutrinos were detected in 1956 (awarded the 1995 Nobel).

In the 1960s, it was discovered that there are at least two kinds of neutrinos, having found muon neutrino, which was awarded the 1988 Nobel, with the following open question (stated on the Nobel website):

 “Whether they are weightless or have a finite but small mass is one of today’s unsolved problems.”

We now know that they have non-zero mass. Better neutrino detectors have been built since the 1960s and rewarded with the 2002 Nobel

It turns out the neutrinos come in three different flavors, not just two, and furthermore, they oscillate between these flavors. This discovery was awarded the 2015 Nobel.

Okay, by now, you must be seriously wondering why a man who is more interested in Ferraris than fermions, McLarens than muons and Private Jets than pions, is posting about neutrinos.

It turns out that my TRTR – Tayur Reformulated Track Reconstruction – proposal is not just applicable to particles created on earth (at LHC for example), but also in studying heavenly particles, that pass through our Earth, having traveled billions of light years from other galaxies, since the beginning of time

I am not kidding. Here is an email from a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of INO (India-based Neutrino Observatory) that I received over the weekend in response to the TRTR post:

Track reconstruction is also of significant use for the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO). They presently use Kalman filters.

Then there is also LIGO-India where they use matched filters. 

And gravitational waves too! (2017 Nobel.)

All this while I was finishing up a wonderful book, Cosmology’s Century, by P.J.E. Peebles (2019 Nobel), someone who I had mentioned previously in Science and Speculation:

I intend the explanations in this book to be understandable to a non-scientist who is fascinated by what has been learned about stars, galaxies, and the expanding universe.

It is obvious but must be stated that research in the natural sciences depends on technology that was developed largely for other purposes. 

The ΛCDM theory is established in the sense that it passes an abundance of tests. But there are clouds…that we may be sure will lead to something new and maybe transformative.

We developed GAMA and QuIP for supply chain management applications. If modern cosmology can benefit from them, that will be a divine treat!


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