Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interview with a learned solar neutrino physicist

Summary of visit with an eminent solar neutrino physicist at the University of Michigan:
My first and immediate impression of this learned man is an individual in the last days of his professional glory, finishing up his life's work. However, I find it intriguing that he believes neutrinos can be manipulated by microwave radiation - he is proposing that this is the reason there is a drop in neutrinos arriving from the Sun during sunspot activity. In this sense, he has faith in the Lead Dakota results, put forth by the late Raymond Davis. He exhibits daring and imagination, hardly the product of an ailing mind.
What I find problematic with his idea is that it lends itself to an ever-increasing complexity which becomes necessary to explain the observed phenomenon. Instead of considering the simple notion of a solar shell producing less neutrinos during high sunspot activity, we are expected to accept even more exotic behavior exhibited by elementary particles, new-found behaviors that need necessarily be discovered to explain events that may have their roots in an inability to re-check the basic precepts.

He writes,
"The angular size of the sun is 0.53 degree, so one needs the accuracy of 1 in 10^5 for cos(angle), in order to detect the variation of your effect. (The x axis of Fig. 11 that is mentioned in my previous communication is cos( angle).) It is impossible for some time. It would be another story if one improves the method of neutrino detection significantly. I believe that that may be possible in the near future, but I can’t tell you now."

And so I wait.

He seems to have little awareness of plasma physics, but it is not entirely his fault. In this sense he has dwelled his whole life in the cosmological cocoon concocted by an entire discipline locked in the mindset that plasma science is of little note and more importantly, gravity and mass are inviolate.
Consequently, it was a little like having a discussion with a Ptolemaic astrologer from a bygone age. He was very kind to see me, and had the consideration to follow up on my questions. A lesser man would have dismissed any thought of me once I left the room.

Here are the questions I took along with me:

  1. The solar neutrino angle of incidence. I am presuming the collision between the neutrino and nucleus in the detector is traced backwards by a program in order to find the source of origin. Is this so?
  2. How accurate is it? With better understanding, more data and better programming can one expect a smaller margin of error? (Not accurate enough for my needs, but this could change with time.)
  3. Roughly, how many solar neutrino strikes have been detected to date? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? (Answer: Average, 20 per day.)
  4. I have read that sunspot activity might be lowering the neutrino output. What is your opinion on this? (He believes the data is correct - which surprised me)
  5. Also, neutrino strikes in detectors is lower while on the night side. Is this so? (The question didn't come up)
  6. Neutrino oscillation, from Wikipedia:
    "The crux of the solar neutrino problem, and its resolution, lies in the fact that both the interior of the Sun and the behavior of traveling neutrinos is unknown to begin with. One may assume knowledge of one and determine the other by experiment here on Earth. If one assumes the Standard Solar Model is valid, one can derive the propagation properties of neutrinos, such as neutrino oscillations, given data from solar neutrino experiments. Likewise, if one presumes something about the propagation of solar neutrinos, one may derive some conclusions about the validity of solar models."
    Does this mean that the conclusions drawn are dependent on the hydrogen-fusion core model? (This was a tough question and I didn't expect a concise answer. I didn't get one.)
  7. Have all three solar neutrino particles turned up, including Tau? (He said Tau turns up in laboratory experiments, but these solar neutrino flavors are changed when they his the earth's atmosphere)

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