Scientists are getting near an answer that could finally solve one of the biggest elemental mysteries that has ever existed on Earth – involving the neutrino.

Scientists are continuing to get closer and closer to being able to identify the mass of a neutrino. A team of scientists from, MIT, Pacific Northwest National Lab, the University of Washington and the University of California at Santa Barbara have spent half a decade trying to determine a method to actually see individual electrons, and in the process – measure the mass of them. This being a vital step in the process to actually measure the weight of individual neutrinos. What they have come up with, and have been working on so tirelessly is referred to as an electron detector.

Much like its name suggests, it detects electrons and can measure the individual masses of them when they are being observed. This is something that has been of vital importance to scientists who have been trying to uncover the secrets of the neutrino. The neutrino is so curious because it’s a natural element, but scientists know so little about it. Understanding it more, or even understanding them at all – would prove to be significant for science as a whole.

A neutrino is something that passes through every human cell, and every other cell on the planet every second. Billions of them in fact, pass through every cell every single second. It’s something that has really puzzled scientists to this point, and made them curious about the presence of them – as well as curious about how they’re measured. Joe Formaggio, a professor at MIT pointed out that “We have [the mass] cornered, but haven’t measured it yet.” He then went on to point out that ultimately, “The name of the game is to measure the energy of an electron – that’s your signature that tells you about the neutrino.”

However, the big question right now is who will be doing the rest of the research that will be necessary to close the gap that exists right now. The team pointed out that really this is something that’s still years away from having an answer simply due to the fact that going beyond identifying the electrons – another team will have to actually do the work on the neutrino specifically, to actually identify it – compared to all of the other tiny cells that exist. That will be a challenging task, and one that likely doesn’t have an answer for another five or ten years.

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