We have melted half of the eighty holes over two km deep in the Antarctic icecap to be used as astronomical observatories. Into each hole is lowered a string knotted with basketball-sized light detectors which are sensitive to the shimmering blue light emitted in the surrounding clear ice when ghostly particles called neutrinos pass through the Earth. These neutrinos are cosmic messengers from the most violent processes in the universe, for example giant black holes gobbling up stars in the heart of quasars, and gamma-ray bursts which are the biggest explosions since the Big Bang. Neutrinos will tell us if there are dark matter particles trapped in the heart of the Sun, and perhaps even reveal if there are additional dimensions in space.
Dr. Francis Halzen is a Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a theoretician studying problems at the interface of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. Since 1987, he has been working on the AMANDA experiment, a first-generation neutrino telescope at the South Pole. AMANDA obser- vations represent a proof of concept for IceCube, a kilometer-scale observatory now under construction.