Physics taster session

What is it about neutrinos that make them so hard to detect? Join Dr Susan Cartwright’s mini-lecture as she explores the complex history surrounding the discovery of such an interesting, and illusive, particle.

Physics equipment

The Discovery of the Neutrino

Scientific discoveries can be made in a variety of different ways but, often, the trigger is an unexpected experimental or observational result. In the case of the neutrino, an unexpected result in the energy of electrons emitted in beta decay led the famed Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli to postulate the existence of a new particle - a bold step when only two particles (the proton and the electron) were known to exist at the time.

Pauli's particle had properties that made it extremely difficult to detect and he worried that he had ‘invented’ an undetectable particle. Indeed, it took 25 years, and an intervening war, to transform the neutrino from an abstract idea to a real particle. In this mini-lecture we'll look at how Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan accomplished the feat of detecting the neutrino, and - almost equally importantly - how they convinced the scientific community that they had done so.

There will also be a chance for you to find out more about being a physics student at The University of Sheffield, and where a degree in physics can take you. You will hear from some of our current students who will all be on hand to answer any questions you might have about studying physics at university.

When: Wednesday 7th June, 4.00pm - 5.30pm

Age group: Year 12 and Year 13

Suitable for: Students interested in studying physics at university and anticipating a grade B or above in A Level physics and mathematics.


Please note that this is an approximate schedule and is therefore subject to change.

Time Activity
4.00pm Log in and get comfortable
4.05pm Welcome and introductions
4.20pm Mini lecture - The Discovery of the Neutrino
5.00pm Q&A with current undergraduate students
5.25pm Closing remarks

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