September 30, 2020

Japan will build the world’s largest neutrino detector to confirm the end of the Universe

Spain can be one of its partners to carry out the project.

Japan has given freedom of action to start a revolutionary experiment. This project started in 2010, but it is in 2027 when it is expected to be launched. The Asian country has begun to build the world’s largest neutrino detector or, popularly known, Hyper-Kamiokande, to confirm the end of the universe. In addition, another of its objectives will be to find out why the matter won the antimatter after the Big Bang, giving rise to what we know today as the Universe.

HK will be developed within a huge cavern that will contain a 71-meter deep and 68-meter wide tank near the city of Hida and will cost around 600 million euros, according to Masato Shiowaza, a physicist at the University of Tokyo and co-leader of the project. Japan will provide about 75% of the project funds, the rest will be left to its partners. Spain, possibly, becomes one of these international partners, “It would be a serious mistake to stay out,” says scientist Luis Labarga.

Building such a large detector will provide the ability to detect a number of neutrinos not seen so far. The neutrino is a very difficult particle to detect, since it has a very small mass, a spin of a medium and they have no charge. This would help explain how we ended up in a universe full of matter and seemingly without a trace of antimatter, one of the greatest mysteries that Physics faces.

Apart from detecting neutrinos, Hyper-K will try to glimpse the end of the Universe by controlling the water in search of the possible spontaneous decomposition of protons in the atomic nuclei. According to the current standard model of particle physics, the proton never disintegrates, but, since the late 1970s, new ideas and theories try to replace the existing one and achieve a unified theory of all the fundamental forces of nature. According to these ideas, the proton (which is not really a fundamental particle, but is composed of quarks) would not be stable, but would have an extraordinarily long half-life. Disintegration, then, would be an extremely strange phenomenon.


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