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They are building a tunnel into the core of the Earth

They are building a tunnel into the core of the Earth

Project DUNE is well underway: thanks to a long underground tunnel, scientists may be able to reveal some of the most fascinating secrets of the universe.

A few years ago A An ambitious project Which, however, will not see the light of day for a long time yet: it is an experiment that will allow scientists, thanks to the construction of an underground tunnel, to discover more information about NeutrinosMysterious “ghost particles”. By studying them, we may finally be able to solve some of the universe's greatest mysteries. Here's what we know.

DUNE EXPERIENCE, an ambitious project

They called him Debt project (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment), conducted by scientists at Fermilab of the US Department of Energy. It's an undoubtedly ambitious experiment — and an expensive one, estimated to cost at least $3 billion — that could shed light on some of the universe's great unsolved mysteries. How will this be done? In the first phase, which has already been completed, by AA former gold mine in South Dakota 800 thousand tons of rocks were extracted. The result was three tunnels with a total length of about 1,300 kilometers, long enough to accommodate a seven-story building.

Now researchers are building some more Large neutrino detectors Existing in the world: The first will likely be ready by the end of 2028, while the second will become operational the following year. It will then take another two years for scientists to prepare the final part of the experiment, which is to create the neutrino beam that will pass through the underground tunnel, starting with Particle accelerators located at Fermilab outside Chicago, Illinois, to detectors at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota.

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Therefore, the tunnel dug under the Earth's surface will be used to study how neutrinos, which are mysterious things, behave. “ghost particles” Lighter than electrons and without an electrical charge, they are therefore able to pass through any matter they encounter without interacting with it. They are extremely elusive particles, yet they can reveal some of the universe's great secrets. this an experience It is therefore particularly important and unique, because a neutrino beam has never before been analyzed on such a long path.

What can we discover with Project DUNE?

Neutrinos are expected to complete this long journey Many oscillations. In fact, scientists have discovered that there are three types of neutrinos, and that each particle can transform into each of these types through a phenomenon known as “oscillation.” Studying the behavior of neutrinos in an underground path 1,300 kilometers long – the researchers decided to dig tunnels Underground To prevent charged particles coming from the Sun from interfering with the experiment – ​​it could help researchers answer some fundamental questions about the universe.

The first concerns the reason why after the Big Bang (a phenomenon that led to the emergence of approximately equal amounts of… Matter and antimatter), it was matter that took over: why not have a universe made up of antimatter instead? Scientists would next like to understand what happens when a star collapses in on itself: Once the neutrino detectors are up and running, they will be able to record data coming from the star's next explosion. SupernovaThis allows us to discover more details about this spatial phenomenon. Finally, the ultimate goal is to search for the “signature” of proton decay, an event that is theoretically possible, but has not yet been observed due to the very long periods (we are talking billions of years) needed for its completion.

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