“How many neutrinos do you need to create a snowball? If you were shot in the face, would it feel cold and squishy or would it pass through? — Mr. Hugo S., Montpellier
Right now, you get struck in the cheek by neutrinos. Thousand of neutrinos, most of which are released from the sun, stream into your face while you’re reading this. 100B neutrinos travel through every second of your eyes, say Wisc.edu.
This constant bombardment you don’t observe, because neutrinos barely engage with normal matter. They not just go through the face without waiting, they usually go straight through Earth. If you’re an astronomer who would like to detect neutrinos, you ‘re putting deep underground detectors. The dirt and rock block sources of noise and cosmic rays, allowing neutrino sensors to catch without interference the subtle signals of ghostlike neutrinos.
Neutrinos are very lightweight so to make a snowball you would need them in a big number. Researchers have been assuming for a difficult and long time that neutrinos and photons, weighed nothing at all, but it revolved that they have small mass. It is still not known exactly how much it is, but weighing as much as a snowball will take about 329neutrinos. You might write that as 3×1035 in scientific anotation, but it’s fun to write all the digits as a reminder of how amazingly large these numbers are.
If me and you were trying to get a ball of snow made of three hundred decillion (how much is this?) neutrinos, it would fall through your hand. Neutrinos are slowly moving and will more easily go through matter than ones who move fast, so only a couple of them, if any, of those ghostly 300 decillion neutrinos would engage with your hand. They ‘d just fall right into your palm and vanish into the earth.
Since neutrinos interact very seldom with or without matter, all of those observed by scientists were high-energy objects traveling at nearly the velocity of light. Yet, perhaps, the world is full of much slower ones too. The Big Bang produced loads of neutrinos, and perhaps most of them will still drift around us. Since these ” souvenir neutrinos” move with less velocity than the velocity of light, astronomers often cite to them as “stationary,” still though they still fly at million miles per 1 hour.
If the neuronic snowball came to you as quickly as the solar neutrinos in it would travel, it would engage with your body, likely by jumping off an electron in your atoms. You would probably not feel the effect yet, but it will certainly contain plenty energy to send you a lethal dosage of radiation.
Perhaps it is for the greatest that there is no simple way to create a neutrino-made snowball. When you don’t have a particle catalyst lying in your yard, you ought to cling to normal snow.