Sunday, June 6, 2010

Neutrino Oscillations: Yet Another Blow Against Non-nuclear Stellar Energy...

Attempts to further refine and characterize the nature of neutrino oscillations achieved another significant milestone recently with the report of the first neutrino event detected in the OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus) experiment.  In this experiment, neutrinos generated over 700 kilometers away at CERN (see Particle Chameleon Caught in the act of Changing) would travel through the Earth to be detected by OPERA.

Various science press sites carried word of the announcement
The Solar Neutrino problem (Wikipedia) had been a long-standing problem in solar physics.  The initial recognition that the number of electron neutrinos detected at the Earth was only about one-third the number actually predicted from the Standard Solar model (Wikipedia) goes back to the late 1960s.  

Numerous alternative explanations for the neutrino deficit were explored, including ideas such as non-thermal distributions of particle energy (link), and even a black hole at the solar center (link).  Neutrino oscillations gained favor as these other hypotheses fell due to their inability to account for other measurements.  Neutrino oscillations had the advantage that they could be below the detection limit of Earth laboratories of the day and still explain the deficit.   But even that 'advantage' would yielded to improved experimental techniques precision.

Due to the many years it would take to find a solution, the solar neutrino problem has been exploited by creationists and other pseudo-scientists as evidence for their own particular non-nuclear theories of stellar energy generation.  This has includes some Young Earth Creationists (though more creationists are including the solar neutrino problem on their list of arguments creationists should NOT use), electric stars (check out 'Electric Sun' in the tag cloud of this blog) and others.

In 2001, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO)(wikipedia), which is sensitive to all three flavors of neutrinos, would detect the 'missing' neutrinos (SNO First Scientific Results)

Such particle-type oscillations (FNAL, Wikipedia) are not unheard of in particle physics.  The first such case was discovered in the 1950s and was known as the Theta-Tau Puzzle.  Refined experiments eventually isolated the curious result to unusual properties of a single particle which is now called the Kaon (Wikipedia).

Responses from various pseudo-science supporters to this news has ranged from avoidance of the announcement, to denial, to accusations against the scientific community.  Not unexpected.  Such 'non-nuclear sun' advocates have yet to produce a neutrino flux estimate calculated from first principles (their claimed model of stellar structure combined with neutrino production physics) without the model having more severe problems with other measurements.

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