Scientific Advances
Natural compound speeds bone growth
Astronomers spy massive stars in the making
Frog gene map a leap forward for humans
Sun-shy mums may raise MS risk in babies
Soft fossils provide new target for ET search
Mammoth blood brought back to life
Outdoor exercise can boost self esteem
Athletes on growth hormone 'sprint faster'
Countdown begins to 520 day 'Mars mission'
Warmer planet to stress humans: study
Plasma rocket to shorten space voyages
Vaccine may trigger infant epilepsy onset
'Fingerprinting' points to dusty Australia
The hole in the ozone layer: 25 years on
Humans interbred with Neanderthals: analysis
Herschel shows star formation is slowing
Washing hands makes tough choices easier
'Face-book' to measure pain in mice
Science gives clues to World Cup success
Human sigh acts as a reset button
Expert confirms Phar Lap arsenic theory
Dictionary blunder a matter of gravity
Warning on high-dose vitamin D
Calling mum makes you feel better
Physicists solve missing neutrino mystery
Scientists in Europe say they have likely solved the case of the missing neutrinos, one of the enduring mysteries in the subatomic universe of particle physics.

If confirmed in subsequent experiments, the findings challenge core precepts of the so-called Standard Model of physics, and could have major implications for our understanding of matter in the universe, the researchers say.

For decades physicists had observed that fewer neutrinos - electrically neutral particles that travel close to the speed of light - arrived at Earth from the Sun than solar models predicted.

That meant one of two things: either the models were wrong, or something was happening to the neutrinos along the way.

At least one variety called a muon-neutrino was actually seen to disappear, lending credence to a Nobel-winning 1969 hypothesis that the miniscule particles were shape-shifting into a new and unseen form.

Now scientists at Italy's National Institute for Nuclear Physics have for the first time observed - with 98% certainty - what they change into during a process called neutrino oscillation: another type of particle known as tau.

"This will be the long-awaited proof of this process. It was a missing piece of the puzzle," says Professor Antonio Ereditato, a researcher at the Institute and spokesman for the OPERA group that carried out the study.

"If true, it means that new physics will be required to explain this fact," he says.
Big implications

Under the prevailing Standard Model, neutrinos cannot have mass. But the new experiments prove that they do.

One implication is the existence of other, as yet unobserved types of neutrinos that could help clarify the nature of Dark Matter, which is believed to make up about 25% of the universe.

"Whatever exists in the infinitely small always has repercussions in the infinitely big," Ereditato says.

"A model which could explain why the neutrino is so small without vanishing will have profound implications for the understanding of our universe - how it was, how it evolved, and how it will eventually die."

The transformation of the neutrino occurred during a programmed journey from Geneva to the Gran Sasso Laboratory near L'Aquila in central Italy.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) provided a laser-like beam composed of billions upon billions of muon neutrinos that took only 2.4 milliseconds to make the 730-kilometre trip.

The rarity of neutrino oscillation, coupled with the fact that the particles interact only weakly with matter, bedevil scientists.

Unlike charged particles, neutrinos are not sensitive to the electromagnetic field normally used by physicists to bend the trajectory of particle beams.

They can also pass through matter, and thus keep the same direction of motion from their inception.

It took nearly four years from the time the beam was switched on to witness the muon-to-tau metamorphosis.

Climate change impact on malaria questioned
Single lens glasses can help prevent falls
Movies manipulate our primal response
Luminescent sharks become invisible
Synthetic biology research gets a hearing
Source of ancient carbon 'burp' detected
Why the goddess of love is in a spin
Computer program recognises online sarcasm
New dinosaur had record-sized horns
Physicists solve missing neutrino mystery
Milk from grass-fed cows may be better
Crabs caught spying on rivals' love claws
Lifestyle may not boost breast cancer gene risk
'Trade-off' gene for plants discovered
Pacific islands growing, not sinking
Caffeine addicts get no real perk
Velvet worm's deadly slime revealed
SpaceX cleared for Florida lift-off
Cyborg rights 'need debating now'
Sunlight shines on silver technology
Mountain biking as risky as football, diving
Dusty simulations may reveal planets
Legal fight over breast cancer gene
Unions call for urgent nano information
Solar panel attraction deadly for insects
Meat eaters munched many ways: study
Snakes may be in decline worldwide
Dogs dumbed down by domestication
Fossil sheds new light on 'dino-bird'
DNA 'spiderbot' is on the prowl
GM cotton use increases fruit pest problem
Warming to kill off a fifth of all lizards
Super massive black hole given the boot
Ball lightning could be 'all in the mind'
Immune system could be used to test for TB
Mobile phone cancer link unclear, study
Teen brain wired to take risks
Synchrotron probes Egyptian beads
Argonauts 'gulp' air to swim freely
Space station gets a new room
'Digital genome' to protect dying data formats
Sweep yields leads for new malaria drugs
Researchers snap signs of illegal fishing
Spectrum reveals supernova surprise
Scientists create synthetic life
Eavesdropping a waste of energy
Star caught eating its offspring
Megafauna die-off may have cooled planet
Hepatitis C no longer 'death sentence'
Atoms bring quantum computing closer
Visualisation staves off constant craving
Experts debate homeopathy funding
Visit Statistics