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No. 137: SEP-OCT 2001

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Solar Model Confirmed, But Standard Model Crippled

A persistent astronomical anomaly (well-covered in SF#112 and earlier) has apparently been satisfactorily disposed of. Even staunch anomalists will have to close the book on the solar-neutrinodeficit problem. No deficit really exists because the neutrinos emitted by the sun change while in flight from a type that is easy to detect to a type that is difficult to register experimentally. The total number of neutrinos reaching the earth is what it should be according to theory but we have not been able to detect them all. This neutrino schizophrenia has now been confirmed, and our theory about how the sun works is safe.

But the erasure of the solar-neutrinodeficit problem tells the particle physicists that neutrinos do indeed change type, which implies that they possess mass. But anomalies are sometimes contagious. The Standard Model of particle physics, so successful in many respects, is now ailing. It asserts that neutrinos cannot change types and do not possess mass.

(Seife, Charles; "Polymorphous Particles Solve Solar Mystery," Science, 292:2227, 2001. Weiss, P.; " Physics Bedrock Cracks, Sun Shines In," Science News, 159:388, 2001.)

Comment. Without question, we have here an experimental triumph, but the undermining of that pillar of physics, the Standard Model, is a high price to pay. We have closed one book, but Nature has replaced it with another that is more fundamental and wide open.

From Science Frontiers #137, SEP-OCT 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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