Super-Kamiokande

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Super-Kamiokande (神岡), or Super-K for short, is a neutrino observatory in Japan. Designed to help answer the solar neutrino problem and detect proton decay, Super-K announced the first evidence of neutrino oscillations in 1998.

Super-K consists of a large amount of pure water surrounded by many photomultiplier tubes. An incoming neutrino would occasionally scatter off of any electron in the detector which would cause the electron to move faster than the speed of light in water (although of course slower than the speed of light in a vacuum). This would create a flash of light due to Chernenkov radiation which is the optical equivalent to a sonic boom. This flash would provide distinctive patterns of light which would be recorded and would provide information on the direction of the incoming neutrino.

On November 12, 2001, several thousand photomultiplier tubes in the Super-Kamiokande detector imploded, apparently in a chain reaction as the pressure waves from each imploding tube cracked its neighbours.


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