Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Neutrinos Are God?

There's a volunteer at work I like a lot--he's a Vietnam vet named Larry who owns an old blind cat named Stinky and he does metalwork (Larry, not Stinky). Today Larry came by the office and started talking about "neutrinos" which is something I'd never heard of before. As he was talking about them, I was sort of thinking in the back of my mind, "Neutrinos sound like God!" and then Larry said, "If you were so inclined, you might see a spiritual force there." I said, "Yeah, I do!" and then Larry shared that he is an "unordained Baptist minister." He's from a small town in Missouri and apparently they trained him how to be a minister "but not necessarily a good one." He said, "I'm so liberal, I think a lot of people are surprised that I'm a Southern Baptist" but I said, "Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist too, so you're in good company." Then he said he liked Rastafarians because "their concept of God is really intense" but he left before explaining.

From Wikipedia: A neutrino (Italian pronunciation: [neuˈtriːno], meaning "small neutral one"; English pronunciation: /njuːˈtriːnoʊ/) is an elementary particle that usually travels close to the speed of light, is electrically neutral, and is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected. This makes neutrinos extremely difficult to detect. Neutrinos have a very small, but nonzero rest mass. They are denoted by the Greek letter ν (nu).

Neutrinos are similar to the more familiar electron, with one crucial difference: neutrinos do not carry electric charge. Because neutrinos are electrically neutral, they are not affected by the electromagnetic forces which act on electrons. Neutrinos are affected only by a "weak" sub-atomic force of much shorter range than electromagnetism, and are therefore able to pass through great distances within matter without being affected by it. Neutrinos also interact gravitationally with other particles.

Neutrinos are created as a result of certain types of radioactive decay or nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the Sun, in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays hit atoms. There are three types, or "flavours", of neutrinos: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. Each type also has a corresponding antiparticle, called an antineutrino. Electron neutrinos (or antineutrinos) are generated whenever protons change into neutrons, or vice versa—the two forms of beta decay. Interactions involving neutrinos are mediated by the weak interaction.

Most neutrinos passing through the Earth emanate from the Sun. Every second, in the region of the Earth, about 65 billion (6.5×1010
) solar neutrinos pass through every square centimeter perpendicular to the direction of the sun.[1]

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