Neutrinos - Olbers Paradox Means Neutrinos from Everywhere

  • A substantial portion of modern astrophysics is based on a very wrong assumption! This is very disappointing to a Physicist!

  • It is agreed that neutrinos penetrate matter with extremely rare interactions. Nearly all Physicists agree that neutrinos generally pass entirely through the Earth without interacting with anything in that process, as though the body of the Earth is not even there!

  • Yet, those same astrophysicists all seem to assume that the neutrinos that we could detect in any experiments must come from the Sun. And so they make estimates of how many neutrinos that would be detected in experiments based on the number of neutrinos that the Sun MUST BE creating.

  • For light or other radiation, that reasoning would be sound. But for particles which easily penetrate the entire diameter of the Earth, it is simply completely wrong!

  • Nearly two hundred years ago, an astronomer named Olbers realized that there were an immense number of stars in the Universe, but that most of them are so far away that we do not see them individually. But what Olbers realized was that if you looked in ANY direction, far enough, eventually you must encounter the surface of some star. And so Olbers asked why the night sky was dark when this reasoning indicated that the night sky should be brilliantly bright, all comparable with the brightness of the surface of the Sun. This was known as the Olbers Paradox, and no one could provide an answer for several decades. Eventually, it was understood that the Universe is filled with gases and dust which absorb and reflect light, and so we do not see light from extremely distant sources.

  • The FACT that modern astrophysicists do not seem to recognize is that for neutrinos, there is no gas or dust to absorb or reflect neutrinos, and therefore, any experiment should be receiving neutrinos from ALL directions of space. From EVERY star in the entire Universe.

  • Instead of ASSUMING that the number of neutrinos which might be detected were exclusively due to processes inside our Sun, where they argue over whether there is a factor of two or three based on exactly which fusion process is occurring in the center of the Sun, they should instead be realizing that we certainly MUST be receiving more than TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES AS MANY neutrinos every second, from every direction of space.
  • So ALL experiments which have been tried over the past several decades have been based on an amazingly wrong assumption! It really does not matter whether the Sun uses one or another fusion process, as the Sun's contribution to whatever neutrino traffic we experience is nearly irrelevant! The Sun certainly only produces and supplies to the Earth around 1/200,000 of the neutrinos which must be passing through us!

  • The extreme scale of this error of all arguments regarding neutrinos seems to call into doubt whether anything at all is known about neutrinos! If physicists are claiming valid data regarding neutrino traffic, in experiments deep in mines to try to eliminate other possible radiation sources, and those experimental measurements are wrong by a factor of 200,000, it all seems to imply that rather than research, they are aggressively pursuing guesses and personal assumptions, which seem to all have been extremely wrong.

  • In addition, the concept of placing the detection tanks deep in mines, may have an additional serious flaw. The argument is that such a location eliminates all other sources of radiation, such that the extremely rare events that are attributed to neutrinos might be noted and counted. The reality is that even in very large detection tanks deep in mines, detecting even a single event that is attributed to a neutrino is rare even in entire months. The apparent flaw is that the Earth contains many radioactive elements inside it, and when an atom which happens to be nearby to a detection tank decays, the possible radiations which can be emitted could easily be interpreted as a result of a neutrino detection. In other words, even the assumption that a deep mine location ensures validity of neutrino detections seems quite likely to be wrong, or at least subject to question.

First placed on the Internet in October 2004

Two hundred years ago, Olbers presented his "paradox". He calculated that, if the Universe is essentially infinite, then in any and every direction we should look, there should eventually be the surface of a star. That would have implied that the night sky should be as bright as the surface of the Sun. Obviously, that is not true and the sky is dark at night! The resolution of the Olbers paradox is now generally assumed that obscuring gas blocks most of that light from getting to us.

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Consider the same reasoning regarding neutrinos. Nothing blocks the progress of neutrinos! According to accepted Physics theory, there should be at least one neutrino emitted during every nuclear fusion event, along with one or more photons of light. Even if the light is obscured from us for most of the stars, the neutrinos should not be, because they should have easily passed through any and all material on the way. It is virtually universally accepted that neutrinos easily pass completely through the entire Earth, with most of them not being affected at all.

We do experiments deep in underground caves and mines to detect neutrinos from the Sun, but shouldn't we actually be receiving around 200,000 times that rate of neutrinos because the total angular area of the sky is around that much larger than the angular area of the Sun? Every one of those stars that sends photons toward us must be creating an equivalent number of neutrinos in the process, right? So it seems that we should be inundated by random incoming neutrinos from every possible direction.

And if that is NOT the case, then either the neutrinos have some sort of limitation on their mean path length or that the "map" thus created should give some indication of any non-sphericity of the Universe. In both cases, new thought seems necessary.

In other words, I do not see why the Olbers Paradox should not apply to neutrinos. Which then represents a SERIOUS theoretical problem for Physics to confront!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in October 2004.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago