Neutrinos – UPSC Prelims

  • Neutrinos are electrically neutral, elementary weakly interacting subatomic particles with half-integer spin.
  • They belong to the lepton family.
  • Neutrinos were first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli, are the second most widely occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light.
  • 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.
  • They are light. They have little mass or are nearly massless. They are no-charge particles that only interact with weak nuclear force.
  • In 2015, the Nobel prize in physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. Mcdonald for discovering neutrino oscillations demonstrating that neutrinos have mass.
  • Neutrinos are the least harmful of all elementary particles, as they almost never react with solid bodies.
  • The mass of a neutron is 1.67×10-27 kg while the mass of a neutrino is of the order of 1×10-37kg. Hence, a neutrino is about 17 billion times lighter than a neutron. The two are incomparable.

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