An elusive detector for an elusive particle (Opinion)
- The Kolar Gold Fields (Located in Karnataka,1960) where world’s first experiments on neutrinos in Earth’s atmosphere was observed, was shut in 1990s due to the closure of mines.
- Neutrino produced in the earth’s atmosphere are a by-product of cosmic rays colliding with its upper strata.
- Based on this observation a larger neutrino detector was built by Japanese physicist Masatoshi Koshiba and collaborators in Japan, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002.
- If the Kolar mines had continued functioning, India could be on par with Japan (involving 900 engineers in world’s Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory).
- In India late 1990s, a group of Indian physicists aimed to build a neutrino observatory, whose product is seen in the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in Theni district (Tamil Nadu) which will come up by 2020.
- It will cost Rs.1,323.77 crore, borne by the Departments of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Science & Technology (DST) as per the 12th Five Year Plan report.
- Slow Cabinet decisions will delay capital flow & will result in a demeaned scientific community without any sort of foreign collaboration.
- As INO targets 2020, digging of underground cavern will take 5 years that contains the principal neutrino detector and assembly of components will take another year. We can achieve the target only if we start now.
- The Neutrino experiment will not be a stand alone one, but will require corroboration by other experiments too..
- If INO is delayed, JUNO will look for confirmations from experiments in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. INO & JUNO should complement each other.
- The INO laboratory will also accomodate a dark matter decay experiment in areas that demand higher attention.
- Masatoshi Koshiba