US physicists call for underground neutrino facility
From Nature News,
Jan. 27, 2012
When the US National Science Board nixed plans for an underground lab in 2010, multiple potential experiments were left homeless, and the US physics community was in a kerfuffle. Now, 40 leading theoretical physicists, including three Nobel Prize winners, have written to the US Department of Energy (DOE) urging it build an underground facility to study subatomic neutrinos that would compensate to some degree for the lab's absence.
"We … are writing this letter to note the pressing scientific need for having a large underground detector, linked to a long baseline intense neutrino beam," say the signatories, who include Nobelists Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin, Sheldon Glashow of Boston University in Massachusetts and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Their letter, dated 19 January, is a boost for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), an estimated US$1.3-billion complex with detectors housed in the Homestake mine in South Dakota and, 1,300 kilometres away, at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, where particle accelerators would generate beams of neutrinos and antineutrinos (see graphic). The letter argues that an underground facility is needed to search for matter–antimatter asymmetry using neutrinos and for proton decay, a process that, if seen, would confirm the theoretical unification of the forces of nature at scales beyond that which could be probed by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.