Posts Tagged ‘science’

How to Detect Solar Neutrinos

In memory of Raymond Davis, Jr.
[Oct 14, 1914-May 31, 2006]

A mile down the Homestake Mine,
delve for riches rarer than gold.

In darkness, in the hot depths,
search for evidence, a sign:

chlorine transforming to argon
in the alchemy of neutrinos.

Insubstantial, invisible,
unveiled by their actions.

Messengers born in brightness,
forged in the Sun’s fire.

— Mary Soon Lee


Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her book Elemental Haiku, containing haiku for each element of the periodic table, will be published by Ten Speed Press in October 2019. Her poetry has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Science, and Strange Horizons. She has an antiquated website at and tweets at @MarySoonLee

Editor’s Notes: An experiment headed by astrophysicists Raymond Davis, Jr. and John N. Bahcall in the late 1960s at the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, South Dakota, successfully collected and counted solar neutrinos emitted by nuclear fusion the Sun’s core using a 100,000 gallon tank of perchloroethylene (a dry-cleaning liquid) 4,850 feet underground to shield from cosmic neutrinos. Chlorine-37 interacts with a solar neutrino of the right energy and transforms into a radioactive argon-37 atom, which is extracted and counted. Davis’s detector was sensitive to only one type of neutrino; it was unknown at the time, but later discovered that neutrinos could change their flavor (a quantum mechanical state) via neutrino oscillations. Davis shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics with Masatoshi Koshiba of Japan and Riccardo Giacconi of the US.

The graph of the (long range) electron neutrino oscillations is superimposed on a colorful image of the sun ( The three flavors are that of an electron neutrino (black), a muon neutrino (blue) and a tau neutrino (red).

Dark Dragons

Wild sea breeze on our skins,
We carve your name in sand

Remembering you fondly
While sipping milkshakes

On the beach where
We misspent our youth

Dreaming about motorcycles
And beautiful girls.

Your voice like a boombox,
Your love for Vivaldi.

Your three angels
Always orbiting you

Like planets
Around their dazzling star.

Your brilliant career,
Setting you up for life.

The house on the hill,
The fast cars, all yours at 22.

Your love for good brandy
And fine company.

How you died—
Forever a mystery.

We burn what remains of you
On the sun-scorched sand.

The clouds shift,
Forming dark dragons.

Christina Sng is the Bram Stoker Award and Elgin Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares and Astropoetry. Her work has appeared in numerous venues worldwide, including Apex Magazine, Cricket, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, New Myths, and Polu Texni. Visit her at

Editor’s Note: The image of the Dust Angel Nebula, by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, an award winner astrophotographer,, appeared as the Astronomy Picture of the Day (April 28, 2016):

“The combined light of stars along the Milky Way are reflected by these cosmic dust clouds that soar some 300 light-years or so above the plane of our galaxy. Dubbed the Angel Nebula, the faint apparition is part of an expansive complex of dim and relatively unexplored, diffuse molecular clouds. Commonly found at high galactic latitudes, the dusty galactic cirrus can be traced over large regions toward the North and South Galactic poles. Along with the refection of starlight, studies indicate the dust clouds produce a faint reddish luminescence, as interstellar dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Also capturing nearby Milky Way stars and an array of distant background galaxies, the deep, wide-field 3×5 degree image spans about 10 Full Moons across planet Earth’s sky toward the constellation Ursa Major.”

To Io

The name you share with Zeus’s concubine

And Galileo’s seismic moon conveys
Our keen belief that children’s traits align
With names their sires assign. If with one phrase
Your namesake set a Greek god’s heart ablaze
And reigned as Jove’s volcanic satellite,
We know her name will likewise raise
You toward unparalleled allure and might.

May magma stir your blood and gadflies never bite.

— Mindy Watson

Mindy Watson is a Washington, DC/Northern Virginia-based formal verse poet who holds an MA in Nonfiction Writing from The Johns Hopkins University. Her poems have appeared in venues including Eastern Structures, Quarterday Review, Poetry Porch, Snakeskin, Star*Line, Think Journal, and many others. You may read her work at:

Editor’s Note: This homage to the Galilean moon, Io, is written as a Spenserian stanza ( The accompanying image is a superposition of an active volcano and Jupiter as viewed from Io (with some artistic license), both from Pinterest. Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system.