India based Neutrino Observatory: Value for National Security

India based Neutrino Observatory: Value for National Security

Question: India based Neutrino Observatory, a physics project which aims to arm India with capacity for detection of nuclear energy for defence needs, has been subjected to questions by leaders and environmentalists. Examine the value of this project for India’s national security.

• India based Neutrino Observatory has been formed to study fundamental particles known as neutrinos

• Project involves the construction of an underground lab which is situated in the Bodi West Hills region of Theni, 110 kms west of Madurai in TN

• India is a pioneer in the field of neutrino research for national security

• Worldwide, US, Russia, Italy, France, Japan an South Korea lead the race for pioneering neutrino science

• India aims to spearhead global efforts to advance neutrino science for defence research

About Neutrinos

• Neutrinos were first proposed by Swiss researcher Wolfgang Pauli in the year 1930

• It is the second most common particle in the universe second to photons only which make up light

• Neutrinos are around 14 billion years old which is around the same age as the universe

• There are 3 different types of neutrinos: ve, vμ and vτ

• These are separated with respect to different masses

• Neutrinos have small mass but ordering of neutrino mass states is a question which is being scientifically investigated

• Neutrinos are important for scientific progress and technological growth as they are abundant, they have feeble mass and no charge and they hide an immense depth of information in them which can be used to unlock secrets for national welfare

Neutrinos and Nuclear Science

• Neutrinos have a critical role to play in nuclear non proliferation via remote monitoring of the nuclear reactors

• Plutonium 239 created through nuclear transmutation in the reactor from uranium 238 can be used for terrorist activities; using appropriate neutrino detectors, the content of plutonium can be monitored and used for detecting pilfering

• Neutrino research is therefore critical for national security

Facts and Stats

Misconceptions about Neutrinos

• Neutrinos cause cancer: Neutrinos cannot cause cancer and they are actually the least harmful elementary particles. They never react with solid bodies.

• Neutrinos are the same as neutrons: Neutron bomb has nothing to do with harmless neutrinos which are lighter

• Lab generated neutrinos are dangerous: These type of neutrinos called factory made neutrinos are not dangerous at all. For example, electricity in the same voltage is produced from different sources such as hydroelectric and coal based plants
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