Physics

Just a little story about a conversation that recently occurred in the MPB household:

Mrs. MPB: It’s not everyday a Canadian wins a Physics Nobel Prize.  So, I decided I needed to read more about it. But i still have one tiny question, why is it such a big deal that neutrino’s flip and have mass?

Mr. MPB with eye brow raised: What?!

Mrs. MPB: Seriously, you know drastically more about physics then the average person, so help me understand.  I’m not sure I get why this is such a big deal, a Nobel Prize winning achievement.

Mr. MPB, clearly confused: Google it.

Mrs. MPB: I did that.  I actually read a lot about it, but I still don’t see how knowing something has mass is worthy of a Nobel Prize.  It’s not like he discovered penicillin and will save millions of lives.  Clearly, I’m just not getting it, I’m missing something.

Mr. MPB: Okay, I’ll explain it……blah, blah, blah, blah.  (That’s not actually what he said, it’s just what I heard).

Mrs. MPB: Okay, can you try again, but using MPB language?

Mr. MPB: Okay, I’ll try……blah, blah, blah, blah. (Again, not what he actually said, just what I heard).

Mrs. MPB: I’m still not getting it.  You’re telling me that a thing from the sun bounced around in a giant thing under ground somewhere in Canada and that means something super critical to the field of physics and the world as a whole?  How did the thing from the sun even get into the long tube under ground?  How many years did it take to get there?  How do they even know it came from the sun?  Are you sure the sun is even involved in this?  Can these tiny things just go straight through me?  How come I cannot feel them?  And seriously, does this mean teleportation is the next step for humans?!  I want to teleport!!

Mr. MPB:  You know I love you MBP.  But, I think it’s best that I take care of teaching our kids about science…and math too.

Mrs. MPB: I love you too!  Maybe I’ll just let this one go and trust that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences knew what they were doing when they determined this years award recipiants.  And I’ll stick to doing what I’m best at, which is certainty never going to be physics!!

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25 Comments on “Physics

  1. Is this blog post bait for The Pregnant Physicist (i.e., me)? 🙂 It actually sounds like you got the basic idea: neutrino oscillations (and the discovery that neutrinos have mass) are important because it means that we finally understand how the Sun generates its energy. For a long time we weren’t sure, because there didn’t seem to be enough neutrinos to match our ideas about where the Sun’s energy came from, but then that brand-spanking-new super-awesome detector in Canada (and the other one in Japan) proved that we’d been wrong about neutrinos being massless all along and we really did understand how energy was generated in the Sun! Hooray!

    We’re extremely sure that the neutrinos came from the Sun, because the way the detector works allows us to get a general idea of the direction the neutrinos are coming from, and that direction moves the same way that the Sun appears to move across the sky. And yes, those tiny things can go straight through you — and they do, all the time! There are trillions of neutrinos passing through you right now — and every second of your life! That’s why the measurement of neutrino mass was so hard — because neutrinos are everywhere, but they hardly interact with other matter at all. So you have to get really lucky and have a really big and sensitive detector in a place that’s shielded from all the other crap that might look like neutrinos but isn’t — hence putting it deep underground, where there’s not a lot going on and the Earth’s surface is blocking most things that aren’t neutrinos from hitting your detector.

    OK, I’ll stop now, but I’m glad to read that you’ve been thinking about Canadian physics and physicists — it’s a really cool experiment that absolutely deserved a Nobel prize! 🙂

    Liked by 12 people

      • Oh my gosh, I love your explanation! You put words to all the blah, blah, blah’s in my post – everything Mr. MPB was trying to get me to understand but there was no way I could write it out as well as you did! Also, I think you and Mr. MPB would be great friends having conversations that make my eyes glaze over!
        I also love that you mentioned the Japanese physicist involved in the prize – I probably should have at least acknowledged her in my post, but honestly if it weren’t for the Canadian involved I can virtually guarantee I would not have taken an interest in trying trying understand neutrinos.
        Oh, and when you physicists figure out how to teleport please let me know. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Lol.. Its a big discovery MPB.. Imagine suddenly being told the fruit Orange is called Orange because its “citrus-y” and tangy and not because its color is Orange. Would change your entire belief system right ? 🙂 Well these 2 guys just did that, changed the way we looked at the universe ..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1.) I want to teleport too! Why aren’t we funding this?! Someone do that.
    2.) My husband will also be handling the math/sciences in our home. Mommy is a language arts teacher, sorry kiddos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We really should be funding teleportation! Seriously air lines are so frustrating, teleportation would just improve life!! And, thank goodness our husband understand math/sciences! Our kids have a chance. 🙂

      Like

      • I love this post! And want to say that due to you having curiosity about physics means you are totally not a lost cause at all! Scientists are getting better at communicating these big ideas to everyone else these days and it is thanks to people like you asking all those questions. Good on you for asking for an explanation that makes sense!

        Like

  4. You two balance each other out, as do Cherish and I. Math and physics are NOT my thing. Please let me know if you ever figure out how to teleport, count me in?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bahahaa.. Love it. Thank you for explaining. I saw that on the news the other day and had not goggled it yet! Hahaha

    Like

  6. It’s like when I ask B something about computers…I should know better before I even open my mouth lol! This reminded me of an episode of “Big Bang Theory”…but I know you don’t watch much TV so you may not know what that is lol. Either way, thanks for sharing, it made me laugh!

    Like

  7. Great post – and great comment from The Pregnant Physicist!

    This sounds like me trying to explain basic Classical Mechanics to my fiancée. She is proof that Math is not science. Summa cum laude Math BA and grad work at one of the top Math faculties, and she’s just hopeless.

    I’m not going to let her help the kids with science homework. Probably shouldn’t let her help with Math homework, either, unless it involves Algebraic Number Theory.

    Leave me out of teleporting. I’m with “Bones” McCoy: I don’t want my molecules getting scattered all over the universe.

    Like

  8. Hahahaha. I can totally relate to this kind of stuff. Sometimes I ask Hubby how his day was and he goes (briefly) into what happened and I have the monkey banging cymbals together in my brain while he’s talking.

    Liked by 1 person

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