Israeli physicist doing research in Antarctica

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Hagar Landsman of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is the only Israeli participating in the “Ice Cube” research project in Antarctica along with physicists from around the world.

She and physicists from other parts of the world are conducting research on sub-atomic particles called neutrinos.

Neutrinos are basic particles created by astrophysical processes that react with material after traveling long distances without being absorbed. This provides information on astrophysical phenomena. To measure neutrinos large sensors are needed, which will charge particles to travel faster than the speed of light.

Measuring this weak light in an opaque sensor testifies to the existence of the neutrinos.

Landsman said that building a neutron sensor takes a large portion of translucent and dark material, which is found in ice at great depths, like in Antarctica.

Landsman has almost been at the most southern tip of the earth, building a giant telescope to be used for astrophysical research.

“The conditions here are not easy,” she said. “It's very cold and dry, and there isn't enough oxygen. In this season of the year, there is daylight round the clock, the rooms are tiny and one can shower only twice a week for two minutes.”

With a special drill, Landsman and her colleagues are digging 2.5 kilometers down into the ice and inserting a chain of 60 sensors into each one. Placement must be done carefully so the scientists can properly analyze the data.

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