Since IceCube was proposed, people have been claiming that you can get a new view of astrophysics by using particles instead of light, and we were pretty sure what the journey would look like. It hasn’t gone quite in the order we expected, but we’re getting that new view of astrophysics, and also, a few years later, filling in the steps we expected to fill first. When we find bits of scientific evidence in a different order than we expected, does that change how excited we get about them?
The sunrise at the South Pole over the IceCube laboratory, the central building on top of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory
We been expanding astronomy since it started. First, astronomers used telescopes to resolve visible light better. Later, they expanded to different regions of the light spectrum like x-rays and gamma rays. Then, it was a small step to expand from gamma rays, which are easier to think of as particles than as waves, to particles like the atomic nuclei that make up cosmic rays. Neutrinos are another kind of particle we can use for astronomy, and they have unique advantages and challenges.
The hard part about using neutrinos as ...