Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 23  |  Friday, May 12, 2000  |  Number 9
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Post Cards from Long Beach

by Judy Jackson

Neutrinos weigh either nothing or next to nothing. The Queen Mary checks in at some 81,237 gross tons. Last week, the lightweight particles and the portly ex-luxury liner shared a berth in the southern California city of Long Beach, site of the American Physical Society's annual spring meeting. And while no one presented results that exactly rocked the boat, there was plenty to write home about.

In 1967, the city of Long Beach bought the former Cunard liner and parked it in Long Beach Harbor to give this sun-drenched but slightly gritty port town a bit of added panache as a tourist destination. The neutrinos, current darlings of particle fashion, served somewhat the same function at the APS meeting, helping to bring some thousand physicists (as always, instantly recognizable by a certain sartorial je ne sais quoi) to this annual spring physics fest. And, like the neutrinos that fill every cubic meter of the universe, Fermilab physics was everywhere.

Although they spent a few exciting days together in Long Beach, there is an important difference between neutrinos and the Queen Mary. Whether or not neutrinos turn out to have mass, we know that they have no charge. For the Queen Mary, however, itís $15.00 for adults, $9.00 for children under twelve.

last modified 5/12/2000   email Fermilab