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Tune in this Friday, when the one-and-only MC Truth (AKA Chris Marshall, graduate student at the University of Rochester and local celebrity) takes to the stage again to the crowd’s cheers. No guarantees here about the rap content of this performance, but you should be prepared for the rich physics content and excitement that you’ve come to expect from Fermilab’s premier hip-hop artist.
Marshall will share with the Wine and Cheese crowd MINERvA’s latest findings about kaon production by neutrinos from the NuMI beamline. Of particular interest will be measurements of neutral-current kaon production, a significant background for many proton decay searches.
Proton decay is an exciting area of research in high-energy physics today, and its existence will make or break many of the most popular models of grand unification, so-called grand unified theories (GUTs).
Our community has already ruled out many GUTs through searches at large detectors, such as the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan. However, these detectors aren’t optimized to search for protons decaying into kaons (specifically, p → Kν), which is the signature testable feature of many GUTs that incorporate supersymmetry. Future detectors, such as DUNE, will have the capacity to search for this type of proton decay, and by then, you’d better hope that we understand how to characterize the background processes we expect.
MINERvA’s precision measurement, performed by MC Truth himself, is a big step in that direction, because neutral-current kaon production is a significant background to this specific type of proton decay. The MINERvA detector can study such interactions because of its fine-grained tracking and timing resolutions.
You also can look forward to learning about MINERvA’s study of charged-current kaon production, as well as evidence for the first-ever observation of coherent kaon production. Coherent kaon production (analogous to coherent pion production) is a process in which a neutrino interacts non-destructively with a nucleus to produce a kaon and muon.
Be sure to catch this act while you can — before you know it, MC Truth may be off on an international tour.
Rob Fine is a graduate student at the University of Rochester.