Particle Hunters Can Spend a Lifetime Searching for Answers

IceCube is an example of how big science, and particularly particle physics, now often works on generational time scales. Getting from the idea of IceCube to actually drilling its neutrino sensors into a cubic kilometer of Antarctic ice to pinpointing a high-energy neutrino source took 30 years. In that time, key personnel retired, passed away, or moved on to projects offering more instant gratification. Whitehorn’s experience is the exception, not the rule—many scientists have devoted years, decades, or even entire careers to seeking results that never came.

The discovery of the Higgs boson took even longer than extragalactic neutrinos: 36 years from initial discussions about building the world’s biggest and

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