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Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021
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The One That Got away

The One That Got away
The One That Got away
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Last year’s physics Nobel could well have had an Indian’s name on it had not the government pulled the plug on the experiments that physicists were conducting two miles below earth at Kolar gold fields in Karnataka two decades ago.

The project to detect neutrinos—mysterious, chargeless, massless sub-atomic particles—was called off in 1990 because the Indian government was unwilling to shell out Rs 50 crore. But others kept pegging away at it, and a Japanese researcher (Masatoshi Koshiba) eventually went on to share the 2002 Nobel with two others.

The Kolar gold fields experiment was initiated in the 1950s by the nuclear physicist, Homi J. Bhabha, to study cosmic rays. But it was in 1965 that neutrinos were detected by M.G.K. Menon and his associates V. S. Narasimham, B. V. Sreekantan and Ramanamurthy, and their Japanese collaborator S. Miyake.

For its experiments, the Indian team installed, 8,000 feet below the earth’s surface, a giant 140-ton detector. They did a large number of experiments, most of them with Miyake from Osaka City University till 1980,...

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