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The beta decay process: a neutron decays into a proton and an electron (beta radiation) with the emission of a anti-neutrino
Contemporary Physics Education Project

Neutrino History

The existence of the "neutrino" was proposed by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930 as a possible explanation for what was at the time an unresolved problem in nuclear physics: the process of "beta decay". By studying momentum and energy conservation in beta decay, Pauli proposed that a third particle was needed for momentum and energy to be conserved. This particle had to be electrically neutral. Enrico Fermi called this particle "neutrino" which in Italian means "little neutral one".

Neutrinos have little interaction with matter and are difficult to detect. In 1956 physicists Reines and Cowan eventually found evidence of neutrino interactions originating in a nuclear reactor. Fred Reines was a co-winner of the Noble Prize in physics in 1995.

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Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

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Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Neutrinos

The neutrino is an extremely light (and possibly massless) neutral particle. The neutrino belongs to the family of leptons, the particles that interact through the so-called weak force. For this reason...more

The Big Bang

All of the matter and energy in the Universe was initially confined in a very small region until an enormous explosion occurred, causing the Universe to expand. This expansion continues today. ...more

The Solar Neutrino Problem

Theories about fusion inside the solar core predict the number of neutrinos that should reach Earth. Experiments on Earth have been set up to detect solar neutrinos in order to test the validity of these...more

Creating Elements up to Iron

When the temperature in the core of a star reaches 100 million degrees Kelvin fusion of Helium into Carbon occurs (three Helium nuclei combine to form a nucleus of Carbon). In the same range of temperature...more

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this...more

Fusion Experiments

There are several experiments worldwide where the conditions for nuclear fusion reactions have been achieved in a controlled manner. The two main approaches that are being explored are magnetic confinement...more

The Hydrogen Bomb

In the Hydrogen bomb the explosion of a nuclear fission charge (atomic bomb) produces the temperature and density necessary for the fusion of Deuterium and Tritium (isotopes of Hydrogen), resulting in...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA