Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: Finding Neutrino
By william price
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The forty-six year old scientist ran his rough fingers through his shaggy graying hair. He gazed out of his window at the blurred images of the Buenos Aires' Aeropuerto Internacional, as his jet roared down the runway. It was a long flight to Miami, and he was looking forward to a nice nap. Sitting next to him was a six-inch thick journal titled, A.M.A.N.D.A.. The aisle seat was occupied by a woman in her mid-twenties.
"So, how long have you been working down in Antarctica?" The woman's voice was sharp and genuine.
The question startled Wolfgang. "Is it that obvious?"
The woman laughed. "I'd say there are a few clues. The red, weather-beaten face, except for the white goggle-shaped circles around your eyes and your haggard beard are two indicators. You add to that a large notebook with an acronym on its cover, and I figure you've either been working on the icecap or hunting Yeti in the mountains."
Wolfgang cracked a smile. "I'd say you're pretty perceptive, young lady. I spent most of the past fourteen years on Antarctica." He cast a gaze at his inquisitor. "You a college student?"
"No, sir, I was down in Buenos Aires visiting my father. He's a missionary."
"That's interesting. What's your name?"
The woman giggled and smiled. "Amanda."
"No, sir. That's my name. I've been dying to find out what that notebook is about. What does the acronym stand for?"
Wolfgang sighed. ""The Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array."
"Okay, now what does it mean?"
The scientist shook his head and smiled. "You're going to make me talk this entire flight, aren't you?"
"Oh yes, sir. I hate to fly.
"Call me, Wolfgang, then. ‘Sir’ makes me feel old."
"It's a deal, sir. I mean, Wolfgang. That's a very scientific name."
"Probably because my father, Wolfgang, was a scientist, and his father's name was Wolfgang."
"Was he a scientist too?"
"No, he was a goat herder, but I was told he looked scientific."
They both laughed.
"So what exactly do you do?" Amanda asked.
"Is a neu-trino a fish?"
"No, no. I've been fishing for secrets to the universe."
"Yes, deep under the ice even, with a telescope."
"That's kind of backwards, Wolfgang, but cool. You're searching for the secrets of Heaven inside the earth. And you are using an instrument that was designed to look outward, to examine inward. That could almost preach."
Wolfgang looked puzzled.
"Forget it. It's just something my father says. So, what's a neutrino then?"
"It's a very energetic particle that is virtually undetectable. It doesn't have any mass or electric charge. One hundred trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second and you never know it. "
"Why would you search for something you cannot see or feel, and is for the most part, invisible?"
"A scientist hates what he can't measure, but at the same time, is challenged to do so. Neutrinos are formed by some very powerful cosmic engine. Outer space is about 90 percent of things we cannot see. Neutrinos are part of that mystery. If we can understand them, we might find hidden clues to the universe."
"Why search under the icecap?"
"Because it has little or no radiation to interfere with our detectors. You see, the earth blocks out the neutrinos with the highest energy, allowing the low energy particles to pass through. And then, about once a second, a neutrino collides with an atom and produces a subatomic particle that produces light. Our instruments can magnify the light one billion times."
“Do you have any pictures of those light explosions?"
Wolfgang quickly leafed through his notebook and showed Amanda a computer-enhanced image.
Amanda's mouth fell open. "Wolfgang, that's amazing."
"Yes, it is."
"No, I mean, don't you see the face of Jesus?"
The scientist looked again, and his eyes widened with amazement.
"Exactly," Amanda exclaimed. "Your search of the invisible led you to its creator."
Wolfgang was silent for a moment and turned his gaze toward Amanda.
"I guess I'll be asking you questions the rest of the flight, miss missionary's daughter."
"Imagine that." Amanda smiled and pulled out a small Bible from her purse.
Footnotes: Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Col 1:15,16 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."
All scriptures NIV.
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