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  • What’s cooler than cool? Ice Cold, I mean Cube!

    2010 - 12.27

    Last week I read about a wholly impressive undertaking which I was previously oblivious to, and now very interested in hearing more about: the Icecube Neutrino Observatory, at the South Pole. Yes, that South Pole. Basically they drilled a bunch of loooooooong holes, filled em up with detectors, and now they’re going to “listen” for neutrinos, of which they can measure power and direction, thanks to the size of the array of detectors. One cool detail is that the detector will be better at seeing neutrinos that come from the northern hemisphere. As in, neutrinos that have passed THROUGH the ENTIRE Earth before reaching the array. It’s better at seeing those.

    Wait, wait, did you just say “passed through the entire Earth”?

    Yep. Neutrinos can do that because neutrinos don’t ordinarily interact with matter. In fact, when they detect them, what they’re detecting is not even the neutrino directly! Here, this amazing video will enlighten us all. Dim the lights and get some popcorn:

    Oh man, how cool is that. Studying cosmic rays… In my most jealous voice I cry “Lucky!” This is a powerful new tool to study one of the influencing factors in our evolution. Take it away, Carl:

    “Think of it: A star blows up, thousands of light years away in space and produces cosmic rays which spiral through the Milky Way galaxy for millions of years until quite by accident some of them strike the Earth… and us. The evolution of life on Earth is driven in part through mutations, by the deaths of distant stars. We are, in a very deep sense, tied to the cosmos.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

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