Friday, 4 May 2007

I shall call him MiniBooNE

On email today with a colleague, I've been discussing the somewhat surprising/frustrating/tantalising result posted at arXiv:0704.1500 [hep-ex] by the BooNE neutrino experiment. Well, actually, the current experiment is called MiniBooNE, which is a bit unfortunate. (In their defence, I think their idea pre-dates Mike Myers'.)

MiniBooNE was set up to test the results of the LSND experiment, which <short version>found evidence for neutrino oscillations, but evidence that didn't fit with all of the other positive neutrino-oscillation results we've been seeing; and over the years, the disconnect has been getting worse</short version>. The idea of MiniBooNE was to come at the same physics using a different approach, and either reach the same conclusion or not --- let the data decide.

Trouble is, the MiniBooNE data (for which we have waited for a long time) are confusing. The simplest explanation of LSND will not wash, but we already knew that; some convoluted explanations of LSND are still hard to rule out, which we probably suspected; and there is an unexpected anomaly in the MiniBooNE data which looks like either (a) they have missed something, or (b) something very interesting is going on.

It has been difficult to have a sensible conversation about LSND for a long time. MiniBooNE was supposed to make it easier, whereas for now, it has made it more difficult. I for one am waiting for their next paper, and the one after that, and hoping they shed some light.

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