In DepthParticle Physics

India's costly neutrino gamble

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Science  30 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6221, pp. 464
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6221.464

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India's central government this month approved plans to build the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), a $244 million facility 1200 meters under a mountain in southern India. Its goal, to determine which of the three types of neutrinos is heaviest and which is lightest, may seem esoteric. But it could help answer other fundamental questions in physics, including how neutrinos acquire mass, whether they are their own antiparticles, and why the universe has so much more matter than antimatter. As India's most expensive basic science facility ever, INO will have a profound impact on the nation's science. Its opening in 2020 would mark a homecoming for India's particle physicists, who over the last quarter-century dispersed overseas as they waited for India to build a premier laboratory. And the INO team is laying plans to propel the facility beyond neutrinos into other areas, such as the hunt for dark matter, in which a subterranean setting is critical.