Lead from an ancient shipwreck will serve modern physics
Project participants CUORE, engaged in the registration of rare nuclear processes, will protect the created detector with the help of lead, which has lain on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea for more than 2,000 years.
Experiment CUORE should start in 2–3 years. Its main goal is to observe the rarest phenomenon. neutrinoless double beta decay… Registration of this process will give physicists the opportunity to calculate the mass of neutrinos and prove that these particles are antiparticles for themselves.
Detector CUORE will be composed of 988 tellurium dioxide bolometers, each weighing 750 g, and housed in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory underground. To protect the detector from external influences, a material with low intrinsic radioactivity is needed, and ancient lead is almost ideal, since the content of the radioactive isotope 210Pb in it has greatly decreased over two thousand years.
A load of lead – about 2,000 bars weighing 33 kg each – ended up on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near Sardinia after a 36-meter ship sailing from Spain to Italy sank here. The wreck of the ship, which, according to archaeologists, was deliberately sunk, was discovered about 20 years ago; scientists learned about this, the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics financed the operation to retrieve the cargo, and the bars began to be raised to the surface. The second batch of 120 bars arrived at Gran Sasso Lab last week.
It is worth noting that lead from a Spanish galleon that sank 450 years ago has already been used in a similar experiment. IGEX, but the quality of this material was noticeably inferior to that which will protect the detector CUORE…