Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Neutrinos and Humans
Name: Denzil S.
Status: other
Age: 60s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 5/22/2003


Question:
Even though neutrinos interact very weakly with matter, there is a high probability that over a person's life span a few will interact with every human (according to my estimations). What would one expect from such an interaction? Has it ever been observed? I estimate that a few people worldwide die from such interactions and would like to know if more informed scientists would concur.


Replies:
Denzil,

If a neutrino interacts with your body, there are two major things it can do, one with an electron and one with an atom. If the neutrino interacts with an electron, it can produce one tiny burst of radiation energy, like a tiny X-ray. If a neutrino interacts with the nucleus of an atom, it will tend to inspire "beta decay", causing a neutron to change into a proton and a high energy electron. This electron may leave your body. It may interact with your body just like all the other beta radiation you experience in your life. One neutrino is not enough to really hurt you. If many neutrinos interacted with your body at once, then you would have to worry.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Professor
Illinois Central College



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory