It may seem as though every new day brings an announcement of a scientific breakthrough of the highest order. Should you freak out about every new record-breaking neutrino? In this week's "Ask a Physicist," we'll find out.
Image: The IceCube detector under Aurora Australis. Courtesy of the IceCube Collaboration.
If you're a regular reader of io9, I presumably don't need to make the case that science is awesome and exciting and that scientific discoveries have repeatedly changed the way we perceive our world. But that said, breakthroughs don't happen every day, which means that almost daily announcements of revolutionary new discoveries are almost all overhyped. If you're paying attention, you could be forgiven for wondering, after each new announcement:
Is this result really a big deal?
For instance, last year there was a genuinely exciting announcement of a pair of high-energy neutrinos discovered at the South Pole. Just a few months ago, this was followed up by a third detection at the same energy, prompting a rash of followup questions asking whether this was really such a big deal. In this case, I think it is, and I'll give you a crash course in neutrinos to explain why.