John Gribbin

Small Is Beautiful

Neutrino

By

Oxford University Press 176pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

Of all the particles detected so far by physicists, neutrinos are the most difficult to find. This is not because they are rare – far from it. Billions of neutrinos produced in nuclear reactions deep inside the sun pass through each square centimetre of your skin every second. But that’s the trouble: they pass through just about everything. In 1930 the physicist Wolfgang Pauli postulated the existence of neutrinos to explain anomalous features of nuclear interactions and was so confident that they would never be detected directly that he promised a case of champagne to anyone who could do the trick. In 1956, when neutrinos were indeed detected, he made good his promise.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,