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Greece: A Pioneering experiment in Pylos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Neutrinos are elementary particles that travel close to the speed of light, lack an electric charge, are able to pass through ordinary matter almost undisturbed and are thus extremely difficult to detect. Neutrino detectors are often built underground in order to isolate the detector from cosmic rays and other background radiation. The coast of Pylos, in the south western part of the Peloponnese, an ideal location for pioneer Neutrino experiments, since it’s geographical position is close to the greatest depth of the Mediterranean Sea (5200 m. at the area of the Hellenic Trench). Pylos is also home to the NESTOR Institute for Deep Sea Research, Technology and Neutrino Astroparticle Physics. The Institute is staffed by a scientific team from the Physics Department of the University of Athens, specialising in research and deployment of phenomena in deep water. A large underwater telescope, 10 times higher than the Eiffel Tower, is being constructed, and its purpose is to monitor and track neutrinos from outer space. It is one of four similar projects in the world. The sea water is important because it absorbs most of the light as well as other electromagnetic radiation, allowing only the ever elusive neutrinos to pass through. It is the great depth, combined with the close proximity to the shore that Pylos offers as its comparative advantages in competing with the two other European observatories – Antares, in France, and Nemo, in Italy. The prize will be the selected site for KM3Net, the future European infrastructure for neutrino telescopy. The 24th International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics (NEUTRINO 2010) is scheduled to take place in Athens in January 2010. Secretariat General of Information: About Greece – Scientific & Technological Research; Ministry of Development- Secretariat General of Research & Technology: Supervised Bodies; National Observatory of Athens: www.noa.gr; Hellenic Centre for Marine Research: Institute of Oceanography