Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Two Uses For Ice

Headed by UW Madison Physics Professor Francis Halzen, an international group is building a neutrino telescope at the South Pole. The telescope is essentially a cubic kilometer of transparent ice deep enough below the surface to guarantee absolute total darkness. Neutrinos are subatomic particles with no charge and almost no mass. In other words, in a world of matter and energy, neutrinos are just barely matter.

Unlike other particles, neutrinos are antisocial, difficult to trap in a detector”, so Project IceCube is designed to capture the flashes of blue light which occasionally flicker momentarily from a realm where no other light ever exists. This signature of the rare collision of a neutrino with common matter is picked up by sensors buried a mile and a half below the Antarctic surface and delivered to computers in Madison, Wisconsin. Ain’t technology wonderful!

Further north in the northern hemisphere and decidedly on top of the ice, the Cinderella season for the Oilers continues as Edmonton eliminates the Sharks and advance to the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals. shhhhhhh - team of destiny working - don't jinx it.