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Neutrinos, perhaps the most abundant subatomic particles (particles smaller than an atom), may be useful in foretelling the universe’s future. Physicists believe that colliding nuclei of hydrogen atoms in the Sun and other stars release neutrinos that emerge from the stars and stream into space. Although unsure about neutrinos’ specific proper ties, physicists reason that if neutrinos possess mass and are therefore susceptible to gravity, millions of years from now the countless neutrinos that have been streaming outward through space would over time cause the expanding universe to slow, stop, and begin collapsing inward.

Neutrinos, however, are extremely difficult to detect and study. Their visible traces—infinitesimal flashes of light appearing when neutrinos collide with atomic nuclei—are virtually indistinguishable from those of other atmospheric phenomena such as the interaction of cosmic rays with atomic nuclei in Earth’s atmosphere. Physicists are therefore building underground neutrino detectors assuming that the screening capacity of Earth will prevent the mistaking of neutrinos for other phenomena.

I don't understand the last sentence. I've got the problem of the neutrinos and I guess the physicists propose a solution to the problem at the last sentence, however what is the solution? What do the detectors prevent? What "mistaking" do they talk about?

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"Physicists are therefore building underground neutrino detectors assuming that the screening capacity of Earth will prevent the mistaking of neutrinos for other phenomena."

This means:

  • Neutrino detectors above the Earth's surface mistake some cosmic phenomena for neutrinos
  • The Earth itself filters out all cosmic phenomena that are not neutrinos
  • Neutrinos are not filtered out by the Earth itself
  • Therefore only neutrinos can penetrate underground
  • Consequently, if physicists build a neutrino detector underground, anything that the detector registers will actually be a neutrino
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For me, the clarity of the last sentence would be improved (even "corrected" if I am understanding the article) by phrasing it as "... will prevent the mistaking of other phenomena for neutrinos." They are trying to avoid false positives.

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