Thursday, April 12, 2007

No More Sterile Neutrinos

There are three types of neutrinos allowed by the standard model: electron, muon, and tau. Recently there has been a lot of talk of a possible fourth neutrino which is so weakly interacting that we just wouldn't have detected it yet. These neutrinos are known as sterile neutrinos. Furthermore, there was a signal obtained in the 90s which hinted at, but did not confirm their existence.

If this were true it would be bad news for the standard model. This is not like supersymmetry where at higher than standard model energies you get new physics, this is "at low energies the standard model isn't correct" type talk. It wouldn't be good for the standard model if sterile neutrinos were floating around.

Recently, scientists who have been working on a decade long experiment known as MiniBooNE have ruled out the existence of sterile neutrinos. It looks as though the standard model is still correct at low energies and particle physics is happy.

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