University Letter

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Three UND professors to take part in Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) program

On Feb. 1, a press release was issued by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and Fermilab, a DOE Office of Science laboratory, regarding excavation completion in Fermilab’s Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) program, located in gigantic caverns in South Dakota. One Valley City State University professor (who is also a UND adjunct professor) and two UND professors are involved in the DUNE program.

According to the DOE, neutrinos are the most abundant particle in the universe to have mass, yet they are so tiny and weigh so little that their mass has not been weighed. Three different types of neutrinos have been identified. One mission of the DUNE project is to search for a phenomenon called “neutrino oscillation,” whereby neutrinos change from one type to another as they travel.

David DeMuth, a physicist at Valley City State University and an adjunct professor at UND, is a long-collaborating member of DUNE. He is involved in the computational and educational aspects of the program, and he invited UND Professors of Physics and Astrophysics Tim Young and Wayne Barkhouse to participate. They will assist in computational research by using UND’s and VCSU’s computers for data analysis.

According to Young, a portion of the DUNE research will be directed at detecting neutrinos produced following a supernova. Young is working on the statistics of stellar distributions around the sun that could produce one of these explosions. As to the phenomenon of neutrino oscillation, Young told UND Today:

“This is like having a chocolate ice cream cone and walking down the street, it changes to vanilla. Very bizarre particles!”

Barkhouse’s research is focused on galaxy clusters, systems that contain thousands of galaxies that are gravitationally bound together into huge structures. He told UND Today that he is examining the different lines of evidence that support the existence of dark matter – matter that is not made up of ordinary matter like protons, neutrons and electrons, and that doesn’t emit or reflect light, but interacts gravitationally with the universe.

Said Barkhouse: “The exact nature of dark matter is a mystery, maybe some form of subatomic particle that is yet to be discovered. DUNE may provide the answer!”

DeMuth, Young and Barkhouse are the only three physicists in North Dakota working on the DUNE project.

For the original press release and more information, read the full post at UND Today.