U.S. Physics Panel Wants to Build Billion-Dollar, 800-Mile Neutrino Beam

A committee made up of high-profile U.S. scientists has a bold plan afoot. It wants to build a billion-dollar particle beam to blast neutrinos 800 miles underground, from Chicago to South Dakota.

The audacious plan would, according to Steven Ritz from the University of California Santa Cruz, be the biggest American particle physics project in many years, reports AP. He also admitted, though, that the project would still be dwarfed by Europe's Large Hadron Collider.

Neutrinos are curious, ghost-like particles that are electrically neutral and of very, very low mass. Because they're not affected by electromagnetic forces, they're able to pass through normal matter—including us!—unimpeded. They've long been a source of both interest and confusion for researchers.

Hence the panel's announcement, yesterday, that they want the U.S. to lead the research charge into the little guys over the next 20 years. If the plan is actually approved and funded, the neutrino beam would take about 10 years to build and could then run for up to 20 years. [AP]

Image by Rebecca under Creative Commons license.