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What is the difference between the three nuetrinos?
- Bob (age 19)
The main difference is that they interact differently with the three flavors of charged spin 1/2 leptons: electron, muon, and tau. For example a high energy muon-type neutrino can interact with a neutron and produce a proton plus negative muon, but not a proton plus electron. Why are there three? We don't know. That's the way it is.
The neutrinos have very-very small masses; their combined masses total no more than a few tenths of an electron-volt. By comparison, an electron has a mass of 510x103
electron-volts. Due to a quantum mechanical quirkiness, the flavor eigenstates are slightly different than the mass eigenstates. They are mixtures. This feature has also been observed in the system of neutral K mesons. A consequence of this is that an electron type neutrino born from, say a neutron decay, can after some time oscillate into a muon type neutrino, and vice-versa.
I recommend the Wikpedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino#Mass
for more information.
(published on 06/20/11)
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