Just taking a dip in the pool and working on a Nobel Prize-winning experiment.
In 1964, Brookhaven chemist Blair Munhofen used the Lab’s swimming pool to test this prototype eductor (liquid jet pump), later used in the Homestake Mine neutrino detector out in South Dakota. Nearly a mile underground, eductors like this mixed helium into a 100,000-gallon tank of common dry-cleaning fluid.
The experiment was designed to detect solar neutrinos, ghost-like subatomic particles produced by the nuclear fusion that powers the sun. These elusive cosmic neutrinos interacted with the chlorine molecules in that giant tank of cleaning fluid and created detectable argon atoms. The experiment not only confirmed the existence of solar neutrinos, but it detected just one-third of the quantity predicted by theory – this became known as the solar neutrino problem. The revelation led not only to Brookhaven’s Ray Davis winning the 2002 Nobel Prize, but it also uncovered the shape-shifting oscillations of neutrinos, an ongoing puzzle with major fundamental implications.