Naval neutrinos, emitted by nuclear subs as a routine byproduct of
the reactions producing propulsion, will have to be taken into account
when studying neutrino oscillations, suggests a team of Stanford physicists.
Oscillation experiments probe the fascinating process by which one
type of neutrino turns into other types. The power generated by nuclear
submarines (100-200 operating at any one time) is only a few percent
of all nuclear-generated thermal power in the world, and the neutrino
flux from a typical naval reactor is only about 200,000 per sq. cm per
second at a distance of 40 km.
This does not represent much of a background for the current generation
of reactor-based neutrino-oscillation experiments. But for future reactor-based
experiments, trying to perform higher precision measurements or those
using a lower flux from a longer baseline (neutrino flux drops with
the square of the distance), naval-reactor neutrinos will have to be
Stanford physicist Giorgio Gratta (650-725-6509, email@example.com)
says that, on the other hand, neutrinos from naval reactors may be used
for a new breed of oscillation experiments in which the baseline for
oscillations could be changed by simply "sailing the reactor"
to a new position with respect to the (fixed) large detector. It is
suggested that a nuclear ice-breaker could be chartered for this purpose.
And, no, a sub's neutrino flux is not strong enough to give away its
et al., Physical Review Letters, 4 November 2002.)