New research on high-energy nutrinos again proves Einstein right

Most thorough test to date finds no Lorentz violation in high-energy neutrinos.

The IceCube Lab at the South Pole Image: Martin Wolf, IceCube/NSF
The IceCube Lab at the South Pole Image: Martin Wolf, IceCube/NSF

Once again, scientists have shown that Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity is right — this time, thanks to a particle detector buried deep beneath Antarctica.

Researchers from the 1-gigaton IceCube Neutrino Observatory analyzed subatomic particles called neutrinos: elusive, chargeless subatomic particles that are as little as electrons. The scientists thought about whether these small, high-energy particles would deviate from the conduct anticipated by the hypothesis of exceptional relativity.

In particular, they were trying Lorentz symmetry — the rule that the laws of material science are the same, regardless of whether you’re an astronaut zooming through space at a million miles an hour or a snail creeping along on Earth at a small portion of that speed.

When neutrinos interact with the ice beneath the observatory they morph into muons, which are charged and can then be identified by the detector.

In the event that the standard of Lorentz symmetry holds, a neutrino of a given mass ought to waver at an anticipated rate — meaning a neutrino should travel a specific separation before changing into a muon. Any deviation in that rate could be an indication that our universe doesn’t work the way Einstein anticipated.

Janet Conrad, professor of physics at MIT said, “People love tests of Einstein’s theory. I can’t tell if people are cheering for him to be right or wrong, but he wins in this one, and that’s kind of great. To be able to come up with as versatile a theory as he has done is an incredible thing.”

Carlos Argüelles, a particle physicist at the MIT said, “This means neutrinos are “sensitive probes for looking at space-time effects. Theories can break down, or they can have new effects when you’re looking for new territories.”

“Scientists have searched for evidence of Lorentz violation in numerous instances, from photons to gravity, but have always come up empty-handed. But with neutrinos, scientists can explore this new high-energy regime that was previously unexplored.”

This result enabled the scientists to compute that anything that interreacts with neutrinos at an energy level more prominent than 10 raised to the short 36 gigaelectron volts (GeV) squared, appears to comply with the ordinary tenets for neutrino motions — implying that Lorentz symmetry still fills in of course.

To place that in context, imperceptibly little neutrinos cooperate with the matter at an energy level of around 10 raised to the less 5 GeV squared, which is still extraordinarily powerless however is 10 nonillion times greater than this new point of confinement.

Conrad said, “We were able to set the most stringent limit yet on how strongly neutrinos may be affected by a Lorentz-violating field.”

However, scientists are planning to continue an exploration of higher-energy phenomena for instances of Lorentz violation.

Argüelles said, “As you explore new conditions, you may find things that were not important are now important.”