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Neutrino telescope?

  1. Aug 13, 2004 #1
    I was reading a book by Timothy Ferris and he mentioned something about if we could create a neutrino telescope we could see back in time to something like 1 second after the big bang. does anyone know if one of these telescopes could be made and what do you think we would see with them?
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2004 #2
    No, we won't be able to create a neutrino telescope. The reason is that we can not control neutrinos like we can control photons or light waves. So we can't focus neutrinos and besides they are very hard to detect, so it would be pretty hard to take a picture using neutrinos. If contrary to fact we could make a neutrino telescope we could see lots of goodies. Hopes this helps, Wes Hughes
     
  4. Aug 13, 2004 #3

    chroot

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    Well, we already have a variety of instruments to detect neutrinos (Super Kamiokande, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, etc.) and they can be called "neutrino telescopes," but it would be difficult to make a "neutrino image" with enough resolution with these instruments to determine specific neutrino sources.

    - Warren
     
  5. Aug 13, 2004 #4

    Nereid

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    Welcome to Physics Forums jackpot337!

    Welcome to Physics Forums Wes Hughes!

    There are indeed neutrino 'telescopes', for example AMANDA. However, they don't operate like your backyard Meade or Celestron one, nor like the XMM-Newton X-ray telescope, nor yet the Very Large Array radio telescope, nor even INTEGRAL, a gamma-ray telescope. Perhaps the closest other telescopes come to neutrino telescopes would be CANGAROO, or the Pierre Auger Observatory. A big difference between AMANDA (etc) and all the above telescopes is that AMANDA looks downwards; it only 'observes' neutrinos that have travelled through the Earth.

    However, sadly, none of the neutrino telescopes will be able to 'see' neutrinos such as those which Timothy Ferris seems to be referring to (what is the name of the book by the way?).

    Perhaps you've heard of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMBR)? This is photons emitted when matter and radiation 'decoupled', approx 300,000 years after the Big Bang; its temperature - as we measure it today - is ~2.7K. A similar thing happened to neutrinos, much earlier (seconds after the BB, rather than 100k years), so if we could 'see' this cosmic neutrino background, we'd get some idea of what the universe was like around 1 second after the BB. Trouble is, there's currently no known way to detect these relic (or 'relict', or 'remnant') neutrinos. :cry:

    You may find this CERN article - on a workshop on the physics of relic neutrinos- interesting. Note that our understanding of neutrinos has moved on a bit since this workshop.
     
  6. Aug 13, 2004 #5
    And what about graviton telescope. Would it theoretically allow us to go farther in the past ?
     
  7. Aug 13, 2004 #6

    Nereid

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    In principle, AMANDA - and 'neutrino telescopes' like it can detect 'point' sources of neutrinos in the sense that regions on the sky of approx the size of the 'resolution' of the telescope which emit more neutrinos than the surrounding ones can be detected. CANGAROO (and similar UHE gamma telescopes, such as HESSI) works in a similar way; that's how we know that some AGN and SN remnants are TeV gamma sources.

    Even Super-K can make a neutrino 'picture' of the Sun - it's not really the Sun (that would appear as a tiny point) - it's ~20o across! - but a very defocussed image.

    Gravitational wave detectors - such as LIGO - could be used to form a crude telescope if four of them arranged in a tetrahedron operate simultaneously, in the same way GRBs are located by satellites with gamma detectors. How far back in time could such a telescope 'see'? Depends on what kind of events generate sufficiently energetic gravitational waves to be detected! AFAIK, there aren't any such that would've occurred in the first few thousand years after the BB :cry:

    Since the graviton is a purely hypothetical particle, the extent to which a 'graviton telescope' could 'see' anything depends on which theory of quantum gravity you choose to apply.
     
  8. Aug 16, 2004 #7
    to be honest, I really don't care TOO much about a neutrino telescope...what I want is a neutrino-powered FRIDGE. If we can power our electrical crap with neutrinos, the environmentalists won't complain too much, and we'd get to have more power! :tongue2: :biggrin: :wink:
     
  9. Aug 16, 2004 #8
    The name of the book is Coming of Age in the Milky Way. He also says that during the Plank epoch gravitation radiation came out of thermal equilibrium with the rest of the universe, which would mean that if gravitions exist and if we could detect them reliably enough to form a 'picture' we could see all the way back to the Plank time of 10E-43s after the big bang. He says too that the cosmic gravitational background radiation is only around 1 degree Kelvin which would make it very difficult to detect. I thought it was an interesting book, he describes string theory and broken symmetries among other things.
     
  10. Aug 16, 2004 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Sometime, I wish I could just grab one of these pop-science writers, smack them around, and ask "What in the world were you thinking of when you wrote that?!!" This will be right after I do the same to whoever was the first to coin the phrase "quantum teleportation".

    Zz. [Who thinks he may need a couple of tranquilizers this morning]

    P.S. Does anyone else besides me notice that most of these physicists who moonlight as pop-science book authors are theorists?
     
  11. Aug 16, 2004 #10

    selfAdjoint

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    Yeah, and somewhat over the hill theorists at that (Hawking, Kaku, ...)
     
  12. Aug 16, 2004 #11
     
  13. Aug 17, 2004 #12

    ahrkron

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    Don't be too harsh with sci-pop writers. In a way you are one as well.

    Also, they may distort the content of what they try to communicate, but it is important nonetheless to make an effort to educate the public about the aim and importance of current science efforts. Most people will get a better idea of some of the issues, a few will be motivated enough to actually follow a career on science or technology, and a small number will decide that those books were deep enough to transform them into experts. That last group is annoying, but I think their existence is a reasonable price to pay for the spreading of a basic knowledge of science.
     
  14. Aug 17, 2004 #13

    ZapperZ

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    Oh, don't get me wrong. I half said that in jest (but only half). I am fully aware of how they can educate the "Joe Public" on basic physics principles.

    What I do have problems with is the WILD extrapolations given in such books. If one's purpose is to try and reveal as clearly as possible basic physics principles, then the LAST thing one wants to do when conveying this to someone who has no clue on the basic principle is to dive into the realm that is still in the research front area and still widely unaccepted. This is where the choice of words and phrases are cruicial.

    I have conversed with several people working in the area of quantum computing, and they fully admit as far as conveying the meaning of what they do, attaching the word "teleportation" is a complete misnomer. This is especially true if the Joe Public starts attaching preconceived ideas of what a teleportation is from watching an episode of Star Trek.

    The same can be said when one talks about a "neutrino telescope". A "detector" isn't the same as a "telescope" in the sense that Joe Public already has an idea of what a regular telescope is. Unless one is willing to first explain why such a thing is different than a regular telescope, it is irresponsible to use such terms and run with it, leaving the poor Joe Public with a confusing set of information without even realizing that he is in possession of a confusing set of information.

    As a physicist, I love pop-science books on physics. However, I also find them extremely frustrating in many cases, especially when I try to put myself in the shoe of someone who is not aware of what is being explained. Why do some of them need to find the most exotic example to illustrate the most basic and well-established principle? We can do without some of these embelishments.

    Steven Weinberg once mentioned that he found Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" as one of the most difficult books he has ever read, while an accountant sitting next to him on a plane thought it was a wonderful and easy book to understand. So go figure!

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2004
  15. Aug 17, 2004 #14
    Hawking gave me the taste of physics with his "brief history of time". I realize more than ten years later that it was indeed a good book to motivate young people. But certainly not the best book I ever read. Not Feynman...
     
  16. Aug 17, 2004 #15

    Nereid

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    Thanks, I've not heard of this book, and would like the chance to read it.

    As you have gathered from some of the other posts in this thread, Ferris seems to have been basing some of his book on theories of quantum gravity (or similar) that are as yet quite untested. Indeed, we might say that it's not entirely clear yet whether these theories are self-consistent, or consistent with QM and GR 'in the limit'.
     
  17. Aug 17, 2004 #16
    I bought my copy from Amazon for like $3.00 or so. Some of the ideas in it aren't up to date since it was published in 1988. Its mostly trying to explain the advancement of physics and cosmology from the time of the greeks up until 1987. Stuff you already know, but he brings it across in an interesting way...along with an extensive bibliography...
     
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