Japan's Giga-Sensitive Neutrino Experiment, Modeled In Balloons

Super K Sonic Booooum
Nick Ballon via Super K Sonic Boooooum

On our short list of dreams here at PopSci is to paddle around inside Super-Kamiokande, the giant Japanese subterranean pool that is the world's most sensitive subatomic particle experiment.

We haven't been invited yet, even after featuring the Japanese awesomeness chamber in our neutrino detector gallery -- but meanwhile British artist Nelly Ben Hayoun has thoughtfully built a 72-foot-long replica of Super-Kamiokande out of Mylar balloons, where guests can sail through the expanse of pseudo-photomultipliers by just shelling out 5 pounds and tugging on a Tyvek protective coverall.

Installed at the Manchester Science Festival this week, the Super K Sonic Booooum installation will also offer visitors the chance to create their own super-sensitive neutrino-detecting globe, with help from physicist Jonathan Perkin and glassblower Jochen Holz.

Super-Kamiokande
Built in an abandoned mine, the "Super-K" neutrino detector surrounds 50,000 gallons of super pure water with 11,200 photomultiplier tubes. To give an idea of the scale, that object in the distance is two men in a rubber raft.courtesy of the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the UK