Hunting the elusive neutrino in Antarctica

12 October 2016

In today's UC Connect public lecture, academic Jenni Adams will discuss the huge IceCube detector, a neutrino detector made from a cubic kilometre of Antarctic ice.

Hunting the elusive neutrino in Antarctica

In the final UC Connect public lecture for 2016, academic Jenni Adams will discuss the huge IceCube detector, a neutrino detector made from a cubic kilometre of Antarctic ice.

Every second of every hour of every day, 100 trillion neutrinos pass through the tip of your thumb – in fact through every square centimetre of your body. These neutrinos are streaming out of the centre of the sun. Star stuff streams through you.

Somewhere out in space, neutrinos, with a million times more energy, are being produced. By detecting them we can learn about some of the most energetic and violent regions of our Universe.

However, due to their ghostly ability to pass through matter with ease, neutrinos are tricky particles to detect. Though it is rare, neutrinos do interact sometimes, and when they do light is produced which can be detected and analysed to reveal the neutrino’s properties. To catch a neutrino a giant detector is needed to counter the neutrino’s very small interaction property.

In this UC Connect public talk, University of Canterbury Physics and Astronomy Associate Professor Jenni Adams, will describe the huge IceCube detector, a neutrino detector made from a cubic kilometre of Antarctic ice, and the exciting astrophysics which IceCube reveals.

At the IceCube experiment in Antarctica, Assoc Prof Adams and her colleagues use the mountain-sized telescope, made up of more than 5000 sensors, to detect the elusive particle. These sensors are embedded deep in the ice at the South Pole to enable detection of neutrinos, which are nearly massless subatomic particles.

Assoc Prof Adams’ research interests include astroparticle physics, the interface between astrophysics and particle physics where the goal is to learn about high energy astrophysics using our knowledge of particle physics and to learn about the fundamental constituents of matter using the Universe as our laboratory.

Before joining the University of Canterbury in 1998, she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden. She earned a BSc Hons from the University of Canterbury and DPhil in Theoretical Physics from Oxford University, where she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study in 1992.

When not researching our Universe, Assoc Prof Adams may be found orienteering in some far off corner of the globe.

UC Connect public lecture: Hunting the elusive neutrino in Antarctica, 7pm, Wednesday 12 October at the University of Canterbury.

Register to attend at: www.canterbury.ac.nz/ucconnect

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168 | margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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