International team of physicists study elusive fundamental particles present at origins of universe, and which still bombard us today.

SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan talked with Fox 4 DFW reporter Dan Godwin about the neutrino, an elusive fundamental particle that scientists are working to understand using one of the most powerful physics experiments in the world.

Godwin hosted Coan on the program Fox4Ward on Nov. 30, 2014. Coan and Godwin discussed neutrinos, one of the most elusive particles in the Standard Model’s “particle zoo.”

Neutrinos are the subject of the NOvA experiment, with the goal to better understand the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe.

One of the largest and most powerful neutrino experiments in the world, NOvA is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

At the heart of NOvA are its two particle detectors — gigantic machines of plastic and electronic arrays.

One detector is at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago and the other is at Ash River, Minn. near the Canadian border.

Critical to crunching data from the experiment is a network of supercomputers, including the SMU ManeFrame, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation.

Designed and engineered by about a hundred U.S. and international scientists, NOvA is managed by Fermilab. NOvA’s detectors and its particle accelerator officially started up at the end of October 2014.

Coan, an associate professor in the SMU Department of Physics, is a member of the NOvA experiment. He is co-convener of NOvA’s calibration and alignment group, guiding a crew of international scientists who handle responsibility for understanding the response of NOvA’s detector when neutrinos pass through and strike it.

Neutrinos are invisible fundamental particles that are so abundant they constantly bombard us and pass through us at a rate of more than 100,000 billion particles a second. Because they rarely interact with matter, they have eluded scientific observation.

Watch the Fox 4Ward interview, SMU Physics Experiments.


By Dan Godwin
Fox 4Ward Host

When you talk about the origin of the universe, the Big Bang is widely accepted theory. But it never hurts to have additional evidence. And that’s where an SMU super computer comes in. In this FOX 4Ward, Dan Godwin finds out why the smallest particles in the universe are getting lots of scrutiny.

Watch the Fox 4Ward interview, SMU Physics Experiments.

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