François Vannucci

Neutrinos and the Looking-Glass Publication date : October 1, 2003

A fundamental particle, the neutrino, serves as the author’s starting point for a radically new explanation of the current state of particle physics as a whole.
Neutrinos play a basic role because they assure one of the four fundamental forms of interaction, i.e. the weak interaction that is related to all electronic phenomena.
They are also believed to have played an essential part in the birth of the universe (neutrinos explain why matter was triumphed over antimatter) and in its current structure (neutrinos explain the famous missing mass).
Neutrinos cannot be detected because they have no electric charge. Thus they do not interact with other particles, and remain enigmatic, since their existence can only be indirectly proven. François Vannucci goes on to explain how scientists have been able to detect these particles and thus to show how the field of fundamental particle physics has been constructed.
Vannucci says neutrinos are fascinating because they possess properties of mirror symmetry. From this idea he develops a profound philosophical disquisition on mirrors, which he regards as time machines into the past.
The discussion is enriched by numerous, aptly chosen, thought-provoking literary quotations. Vannucci has provided us with a wonderful bridge between the realms of science and literature.

François Vannucci is a professor in the Nuclear Physics and High Energy Laboratory at the University of Paris-VII, specialising in neutrinos. He is preparing an experiment at the CERN on neutrino beams, and a second one on cosmic rays in space.