Could neutrinos destroy nuclear weapons?
Physicists at the KEK
laboratory in Japan and the University of Hawaii have
proposed a "futuristic but not necessarily
impossible technology" that would use an ultra-high
energy neutrino beam to destroy nuclear weapons. However,
the researchers stress that the method is well beyond the
capabilities of current particle accelerators and would
require substantial R&D and financial investment by
many nations (H Sugawara et al. 2003 arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0305062).
Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles of matter
and come in three 'flavours' - electron, muon and tau
neutrino. They are electrically neutral and only interact
weakly with matter, which means that they can pass
through thousands of kilometres of matter without being
In 1999 the first so-called long-baseline neutrino
oscillation experiment, K2K, involved sending a neutrino
beam from KEK to the Superkamiokande detector 250 km away.
There are plans underway to send a neutrino beam from
Fermilab to the Soudan lab in Minnesota, 710 km away and
from CERN to Gran Sasso in Italy, 730 km away. The new
method for destroying nuclear weapons proposed by
Hirotaka Sugawara, Hiroyuki Hagura and Toshiya Sanami is
a "vast extrapolation" of such experiments.
The researchers suggest sending a neutrino beam with an
energy of 1000 TeV through the Earth to wherever the
nuclear weapon was located. The beam would produce
neutrons in a 'hadron shower' and would cause fission
reactions in the plutonium or uranium in the bomb. These
reactions would either melt or vaporize the bomb.
Such a high energy neutrino beam would be difficult to
produce, the physicists admit. The storage ring would
have to be 1000 km across - hundreds of times larger than
the biggest present day accelerators. The magnets in the
specially built muon storage ring would need to be one to
two orders of magnitude stronger than those currently
available to construct a realistically sized machine.
Moreover, the cost of building such a device could be
over $100 billion and it would consume 50 GW of energy -
the entire power consumption of the United Kingdom.
Finally there is the risk, the authors point out, that
the interaction of the neutrino beam with the bomb "could
lead to a full explosion" instead of eliminating it.
Zdroj: PhysicsWeb, Belle Dumé
zpět na úvodní