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Science Technology

Undersea Neutrino Observatory To Be Second-Largest Human Structure 120

cylonlover writes "An audacious project to construct a vast infrastructure housing a neutrino observatory at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea is being undertaken by a consortium of 40 institutes and universities from ten European countries. The consortium claims that KM3NeT, as it is known, will 'open a new window on the Universe,' as its 'several' cubic kilometer observatory detects high-energy neutrinos from violent sources in outer space such as gamma-ray bursts, colliding stars and supernovae. On the scale of human constructions, it will be second only to the Great Wall of China."
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Undersea Neutrino Observatory To Be Second-Largest Human Structure

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  • well then (Score:5, Funny)

    by alienzed ( 732782 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:46PM (#38442270) Homepage
    Why build one from scratch? Let's just upgrade the Great Wall of China to be a Great Neutrino Wall of China.
  • by empiricistrob ( 638862 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:54PM (#38442330)
    I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that this is the second-largest human created structure. While this is an impressive experiment which I think is very clever and great for physics, calling this a structure is a bit of a joke. If you were to call an array of phototubes a structure you could easily compare it to, say, the street lights of Los Angeles -- which I'm sure would be counted as a larger "structure".
  • Space (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sduic ( 805226 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:55PM (#38442342)

    On the scale of human constructions, it will be second only to the Great Wall of China.

    ...and the largest one not visible from space...except if you're a neutrino, presumably.

  • An audacious project to construct a vast infrastructure housing a neutrino observatory at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea is being undertaken by a consortium of 40 institutes and universities from ten European countries.

    This sounds like a front for SPECTRE.

  • by lennier ( 44736 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @07:57PM (#38442358) Homepage []
    Klaatu, Little Neutrino

  • It's sparse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:02PM (#38442398)

    No, it's not the biggest. The Deep Space Network has satellites (antennae and data storage servers) around Earth and around Mars. And neither it nor the KM3NeT are solid structures.

    The Great Wall is not strictly connected either but at least it consists of large solid fragments that are big on their own. This observatory is merely an array of sensors suspended in the sea. If you want the biggest structure, I'd look at a road system of a country.

  • At last, it was high time we build something interesting under the seas.

  • It will never get fully funded.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Probably true. I've seen people trying to drum up support for KM3NeT at various conferences, for a while, and they don't seem to be making much progress. I guess the trouble is that KM3NeT would be only a mild improvement on the existing IceCube detector, which cost the best part of a billion bucks.

      Incidentally, I'm a grad student working on another neutrino detection project. We're funded, but our costs are a lot lower than the above projects (in exchange for having a smaller chance of actually detectin

      • Frankly, I think it's kind of a mistimed project. We should be in space, it's a much easier environment to work with. And we should be working like ants out there on projects. Of course I am an undergrad engineering student, not a scientist, what do I know? But I would imagine that working outside the atmosphere in a relative vacuum with little gravitational influences, one could put up some amazing arrays of sensors. Unless vast amounts of sea water crushing down upon you is their idea of the pristine envi

        • by AlecC ( 512609 )

          The vast amounts of water are what you need, and what you don't get in space. You only detect a neutrino when it, just very occasionally, interacts with matter, which generates a flash which their suspended detectors report. You need cubic kilometres of something of reasonably known chemical composition, preferably with a lot of light nuclei, not vacuum. Another project is using cubic kilometres of Antarctic ice for the same purpose. You could hang your detectors in space, but there would be nothing there t

          • I see, we couldn't just dangle the sensors in a gas giant? Just kidding. I was wondering what the relationship was. Thanks.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I work in ANTARES, the KM3NET v0.1 . Most people working here work on KM3NET as well. For now there is 50 Million euros available for us to build this ( we need around 200 Million Euros). There is going to be three detectors, each couple of times bigger than ICECUBE. And the improvement will be huge, combined detectors will give results 10 times better than ICECUBE.
  • the great wall of china commit suicide, because he felt he had offended nature by attempting to impose human folly on it?

    • 1. The European Union (which is smaller than Europe btw) is the largest economy in the world with the highest GDP by lead of 12% so I guess not. 2. I'd be pretty surprised if a single guy built the Great Wall of China.
  • So how many people are going to be buried in it?

    • If you read TFA you'll see it's not actually a manned structure. Confusion understandable given the sloppy title.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:23PM (#38442600)

    Will this "ocean palace", which is built to "detect" these mysterious "neutrino" emminations inadvertantly rouse the mighty lavos before he's good and ready?

    You know how it is with those quantum mechanical things- all kinds of consequences happen as a result of obervation! /joke

    Ok, jokes aside, this is very awesome. The engineering lessons learned could be applied in a wide range of ocean construction projects.

  • These are the Europeans, right? The same group of countries currently scrambling to tighten their belts and prevent a financial calamity?

    Let's not hold our collective breaths. Funding might be a little scarce, for a while.

    • The research funding in the UK is dwarfed in comparison to military budgets or even annual DVD purchases. It's quite possible that international funding could be found for a project like this. With 40 institutes putting money in it's quite possible this will go ahead, it's a reasonably low-budget project in many ways.
    • Yes, lets STOP EVERYTHING because some bankers fucked up their bookkeeping.

      Sadly, the parent post is probably right, that is what's going to happen to this project.

      Let's fire all scientists and stop funding whatever makes society worth while, like schools and social security and infrastructure and such nonsense. Instead, let's write big checks to the banks that caused all this mess and lower taxes for high incomes like bank directors.

      rant, rant, rant, sigh....

  • Turn Great Wall into a neutrino detector

  • Since the medeterranian is full of turds how will they see a neutrino?

  • So, the plan is to immerse a huge number of optical detectors into the deep sea for an extended period of time. Talk to any biologist or oceanographer and they'll tell you what happens to things like that - they become completely encrusted with plant and animal material. It's called "bio-fouling" and it's one of the biggest problems with putting anything in the ocean (aside from extreme pressure). I just don't see how they'd keep a system like that a) operational and b) calibrated.
  • by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:29PM (#38449784) Homepage

    I was doing great reading the article linked to, until I got to the part where the optical goodies are built to withstand 6 atmospheres or 20,000 feet of pressure.

    'Scuse me, but according to my calculator, and knowing that 34 feet of water is one atmosphere, then 6 is a measly 204 feet. 20,000 feet would be, in slightly rounded figures, 600 atmospheres. And since the Med. Sea is salty, its safe to reduce that to 200 feet.

    Its amazing that in all the posts to this story ahead of mine, no one has mentioned the missing word after the 6 "hundred".

    Shame on you all, blathering away on stuff that if this is true, will have zip effect because it will fail spectacularly, both in terms of results per unit of money, and the scientific disappointment.

    In terms of knowledge gained vs money spent, it certainly seems like its worthwhile to do. Doing it in the Med. also spans a much wider bit of the universe due to the planets rotation in comparison to ICECUBE, which is aimed more along the polar axis.

    My unasked till now question though is: Is there enough daytime sunlight penetration at that depth in the Med. to represent a background noise level that will have to be subtracted, and how will this limit its ultimate sensitivity? Secondarily, what is the clarity of the water from the top of those 800 meter towers on down? Given that its sea water, with the detrious of life falling through it from the oxygenated surface layer 1000 feet above, there is zero chance in hell its not somewhat absorbtive of the emitted photons from a neutrino event.

    My $0.02 (in 1934 dollars, adjust for inflation of 77 years)

    Cheers, Gene

  • Anyone else think of Sealab 2021?

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