from nocilla dream: 56
the proposed model to explain the nuclear reaction that takes place in beta decay still didn’t have the energy it needed to be exact. No one knew where this energy would end up. But the creativity of the scientist is too fantastic to be hindered by trivialities, and so, in 1925, the theoretical physician Wolfgang Pauli postulated the existence of a new particle that verged on the ghostly: the neutrino. Lacking both mass and electric charge, this would be the one to carry the mysterious missing energy. They set about uncovering it. A neutron monitor was first built in South Dakota, and then five years ago another was built on the outskirts of Beijing, always in the depths of some mine or other so as to avoid contaminations by other sun-based particles. The monitor is a very large water pond, the size of a six-storey building, in which the slightest impurity, animal, vegetable or mineral, would render the project null and void, and as it has turned out it picks up one or two neutrinos a year. At a glance, it’s blue, bluer than the waters off any beach. For a while now, inside this bunker of extremely pure water, Chii-Teen, the lead physician, thinks he’s been seeing clusters of algae, though they then disappear. But today he’s already seen the tail of a mermaid.