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Can we understand neutrinos as information?

  1. Dec 3, 2011 #1
    I posted this question on two philosophy sites, but so far I have gotten no meaningful responses, predictably so because I'll admit this is a rather far-our idea. But wherever laws deemed absolute are broken, trying to deduce the explanation from the known and understood is not going to work.

    I am no physicist but a philosopher, so please consider my idea something that still needs to be translated into scientific terms. For that it would have to make sense to someone to begin with. I can only hope.

    >>>> It is possible to say that "a neutrino" is only a theoretical unity interpreted out of a collection of detected properties assumably resultant of disintegration of better understood forms of energy, things that more literally fit the description 'particle'.

    If so, a neutrino, and this goes for more subatomic definitions, is to be understood, if we are aiming for epistemic exactness, a case of transfer of information. I.e., parts of what we may define as a particle -- empirical results amounting to almost a particle.

    What kind of structural consistency does a neutrino have? It does not respond to electromagnetism, only weak-forces affect it.

    It may exist only as our assumption, its structural integrity may be a fiction, an inference made because of the assumption that all change detected must be the effect of particles, which is how we still understand quanta.

    It may not be the case that the transferred energy amounting to the detected neutrino is caused to be measured by it being there as such, separate from the measurement. It may be that the qualities that amount to the definition 'neutrino' are in part 'teleported', by the very expectation of and preparation for the 'arrival'.

    A neutrino may in part be caused ( in terms of space-time consistency ) by the placement of the receptive material, the terms of its being-measured, which accounts for its existence. The neutrino can not positively affect, the conditions for its existence must be created. Part of the work of its being is done for it -- this may account for the lack of space-time momentum -- it is in part a non-entity, appearing here and there as 'real', actively constant particles permit it.

    What I am saying is that perhaps the "existence" of the neutrino as such is entirely dependent on the will to observe a give set of possible measurements as "its properties".<<<<
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I have no idea what you are talking about. The only thing that makes the neutrino different from other particles is its charges: it possesses only weak charge which makes it interact weakly. That's all.
  4. Dec 3, 2011 #3
    I'd say that a pretty big difference. We have two very big differences between a neutrino and other particles. Could they perchance be connected?

    I'm not saying that backs the idea of information. I am just guessing, I admit. How is "a neutrino" established? I can read about detection on wikipedia or elsewhere --

    >>>>A neutrino detector is a physics apparatus designed to study neutrinos. Because neutrinos[quote are only weakly interacting with other particles of matter, neutrino detectors must be very large in order to detect a significant number of neutrinos. Neutrino detectors are often built underground to isolate the detector from cosmic rays and other background radiation. The field of neutrino astronomy is still very much in its infancy – the only confirmed extraterrestrial sources so far are the Sun and supernova SN1987A. Neutrino observatories will "give astronomers fresh eyes with which to study the universe."

    Various detection methods have been used. Super Kamiokande is a large volume of water surrounded by phototubes that watch for the Cherenkov radiation emitted when an incoming neutrino creates an electron or muon in the water. The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is similar, but uses heavy water as the detecting medium. Other detectors have consisted of large volumes of chlorine or gallium which are periodically checked for excesses of argon or germanium, respectively, which are created by neutrinos interacting with the original substance. MINOS uses a solid plastic scintillator watched by phototubes, Borexino uses a liquid pseudocumene scintillator also watched by phototubes while the proposed NOνA detector will use liquid scintillator watched by avalanche photodiodes.<<<<

    But this only describes what I say, that it is inferred by creating the conditions for its being measured.
    How do we know it's a particle?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  5. Dec 3, 2011 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I think this is hopeless. If you don't know what a neutrino is, or how its properties are measured, any sort of philosophizing about it is pointless. (This is why we have rules about overly speculative posts)
  6. Dec 3, 2011 #5
    I don't understand your objection. It appears that neutrinos are mostly inferred.

    Can neutrino-behavior be accurately predicted?
    If the answer is no, then how do we know that what causes its detection, when it does happen, is in fact "a neutrino"?

    Perhaps the scientific way and the philosophical way of defining something are different.
  7. Dec 3, 2011 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Everything is "mostly inferred". Wind is "mostly inferred". Heat is "mostly inferred".

    Fundamentally, my objection is that I doubt a misunderstanding of particles in general, neutrinos in particular, and how they fit into the standard model can possibly lead to any valid insights in philosophy.
  8. Dec 3, 2011 #7
    The way physics works is this. The goal is to produce certain results. We have mathematics that predicts what the results will be in certain situations. So you try to use that to figure out what to do to get the desired result, or to show that it can't be done.

    The way this mathematics was produced is as follows. A new effect is found that can't be predicted. People try to come up with math that predicts the effect. Usually this is done by making a simplified imaginary model of the situation and deriving math from that. If this is done well then the math will predict what will occur in as-yet-untried circumstances. If things are not so well then the prediction fails and it's back to the drawing board.

    That's the basic idea. Confusing the situation is that models later found to be partially incorrect may nevertheless produce correct mathematics. There is no rule against this and it happens frequently. Frequently enough that many physicists try not to pay overly much attention to the models and concentrate on the math.

    So now that we've described the situation, let's look at the question of whether a neutrino is real. Well, we have this model which is imaginary and definitely not real. We have this mathematics which predicts what the neutrino will do, that is real in a sense. If you can come up with another model that produces the same or better mathematics, great. I would say that the criterion is "effective, working model," not "real."

    When physicists say something is not real they mean that someone made a mistake somewhere. An example is cold fusion. It contradicts well-established theories models, which is suspicious but not fatal. What is fatal is that others could not make the effect appear. It happens. It is easy to fool yourself and see something that is not there. In the past this happened more frequently, but methods have been adopted that minimize this sort of thing. If the results cannot be reproduced by skilled researchers, then it isn't real.

    Now we have an experimental result that contradicts a very well established theory. Is the theory wrong, or is the experiment wrong? Who knows. Attempts to reproduce the results will follow.


    I used to think that "particles" were a convenient model without much reality, but later found I was mistaken. A particle can be shown to be real by concentrating the correct amount of energy. The particle will then materialize. Often it explodes immediately and what we really observe is the fragments of the explosion, but there is little doubt that it was there for a moment. It's impressive: quite often particles have been predicted fairly specifically before they were detected by experiment.

    On the other hand, when physicists use the word "particle" they are really referring to a complicated mathematical construct which is similar but not the same as the everyday concept of a particle. Perhaps it would be clearer to refer to a "field excitation" but this practice didn't catch on. If you would like a clearer concept of what physicists think of as a particle there is a great deal of discussion of this on the board already, not to mention other online resources like textbooks and instructional videos. The issue of "what do we really know?" is also much discussed. If you take the time to look around you will find answers to your questions. It seems to me that you have a good grasp of the issues, but you don't know the jargon so are having difficulty making yourself understood. Clearly there is a big advantage for everyone to have a common language, so I counsel linguistic conformity :-).

    As far as anyone knows it has no internal structure.

    In my opinion this is true of everything an ordinary human perceives. So we accept that as the natural course of things and continue on. If you wish to deny that any such thing as a neutrino exists and simply use the math without any concepts or English attached, you may.

    As far as the possibly-FLT neutrinos go, it seems like the chance that such a well-established theory as general relativity is contradicted is close to zero. On the other hand, the chance that amassed highly talented and skilled minds of CERN can't figure it out in three years and are so desperate as to go public with a wrong result is also close to zero. So who knows?
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