Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of the World's Biggest Telescopes Is Buried Beneath the South Pole

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are putting the finishing touches on a giant underground telescope buried beneath the South Pole to help understand said phenomena. Accordingly called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, completion is expected to occur at 8 p.m. CST, once the last of more than 5,000 optical sensors is buried as much as two miles below the permanent ice cap covering Antarctica. The sensors are buried across one cubic kilometer of Antarctica's frozen tundra; weight-wise, that's a gigaton of ice. Just what exactly will this telescope observe? Tiny subatomic particles called neutrinos: They’re like a neutron, in that they hold no charge, but they’re the size of an electron. Neutrinos are important because they’re the byproduct of nuclear reactions, meaning if you retrace them to their origins, you could happen upon some interesting things. Berkeley Lab scientists and engineers including Bob Stokstad and Spencer Klein of the Nuclear Science Division, Dave Nygren and Jerry Przybylski of the Physics Division, and many others played a key role in proposing, designing, and testing the key components that made IceCube possible. More>