First neutrino observation in the Zero Gradient Synchrotron's 12-foot bubble chamberThe neutrino was born.
Christened by Enrico Fermi,
in the 1930’s—
a half-baked idea.
Every particle — electrons, protons, photons, quarks —
a unique personality has.
Heavy particles, neutrons, decay
into protons and electrons.
      Energy going into the process
doesn't equal
the amount coming out —
an impossibility.

Austrian-born theorist Wolfgang Pauli
      moved to propose:
the reaction also emits
evanescent little things,
to make up the difference.
Pouring from the sun,
the equations predicted,
trillions upon trillions of fleeting particles
should slice the earth every second.
The earth is just a silly ball,
                to them,
how do you catch one ….
a trap?

Two experimenters, Frederick Reines and Clyde L. Cowan Jr.,
figured out how.
Neutrinos, it appeared,
were Real
after all.
The subject, with a roster of adjectives
so obligatory
each had been assigned
its own word-processor key.
ghostly, insouciant, evanescent, and elusive.

Copyright © 2005, John E. Gray

John E. Gray is a physicist and mathematician by education. He publishes physics and philosophy papers as a hobby. His primary interest is in writting poetry that illuminates some aspect of science or ontology. He also writes SF poetry for amusement.