for the elusive neutrino
hope is that the particle that is almost nothing will tell
us almost everything about the universe."
Halzen, principal investigator of the AMANDA detector
The Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array, fondly known
as AMANDA, was created to detect high-energy neutrinos. These
hard-to-find particles may be very tiny, but they can tell
us immense things about the creation of matter and the universe.
detector consists of several strings of "optical modules,"
basketball-sized sensors that can pick up very small flashes
of light. The strings hang almost two miles under the surface
of the South Pole, and take advantage of the extraordinary
clarity of the ice to capture light released when a high-energy
neutrino hits it.
strings are installed by an elaborate procedure that involves
drilling a column, using hot water to melt the ice, and then
quickly putting the sensors down the hole before it freezes
up. There's no way to remove AMANDA's modules from the ice;
it will stay there until the continent warms up and the ice
sheet melts, millions of years from now.
A literary essay about AMANDA by Francis Halzen, the detector's
Hunt for Neutrinos
How do you track a particle that leaves no footprints?
does AMANDA work?
A video describing what happens inside the detector. In German,
with an English transcript.
Other links about AMANDA:
of AMANDA's detector array
gif of an AMANDA "event"
The rare, much sought-after occurrance of a high-energy neutrino
hitting the optical modules.
fishing for Neutrinos
Another essay by Francis Halzen, written in 1996.