09/18/2015

Mapping Out Neutrino Hotspots Here on Earth

11:59 minutes

A global map combining geoneutrinos from natural uranium and thorium decay in the earth’s crust and mantle, and neutrinos emitted by power reactors worldwide. From Usman, S.M. et al. AGM2015: Antineutrino Global Map 2015. Sci. Rep. 5, 13945; doi: 10.1038/srep13945 (2015).
A global map combining geoneutrinos from natural uranium and thorium decay in the earth’s crust and mantle, and neutrinos emitted by power reactors worldwide. From Usman, S.M. et al. AGM2015: Antineutrino Global Map 2015. Sci. Rep. 5, 13945; doi: 10.1038/srep13945 (2015).

Scientists have been chasing neutrino particles that were spewed out after the formation of the universe. But neutrinos also form on our own planet, by the natural decay of radioactive elements and as byproducts from nuclear power plants. Reporting in Scientific Reports, a team of scientists mapped out both “geoneutrinos” and manmade neutrinos. Physicist Stephen Dye, an author on that study, explains how neutrinos can be used to probe the deepest parts of the earth, as well as to keep an eye on global nuclear projects.

*This copy was updated on September 18, 2015, to indicate that the team of scientists mapped out manmade neutrinos in addition to geoneutrinos.

Segment Guests

Stephen Dye

Stephen Dye is physics professor at Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Hawaii. He’s based in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.