What’s So Funny About Neutrinos?

How Nature’s Elusive Lightweight Particles Have Been the Targets of Humor for 90 Years

Oscillating neutrinos compared to chameleons changing their colors (Courtesy Tia Miceli, “Nine weird facts about neutrinos,” Fermilab News, Fermi National Lab)

Neutrinos arrived as the neat solution to a vexing problem in particle physics. In the radioactive process called beta decay, in which atomic nuclei transform themselves by emitting beta particles (energetic electrons), researchers discovered that a measure of energy and momentum (mass times velocity) was lost. On the…