What is this?! No, it's not the preparation for the New Year's firework. This is the main spectrometer of the KATRIN experiment as it is transported through the small German city Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen. If you have a high bandwidth, you can look at the full video here (~35 MB).
KATRIN stands for KArlsruhe TRItium Neutrino experiment, and is designed to detect the spectrum of the tritium beta decay with very high precision to directly measure the absolute mass of the electron neutrino. Keep in mind that neutrino-oscillations only measure mass-differences (for an elementary introduction, see here). In the beta decay, an electron is emitted together with the electron neutrino. The neutrino is hard to detect, therefore the measurement of the absolute mass with KATRIN is done by detecting the electron that is emitted, and measuring its energy, from which the neutrino mass can be extracted.
The figure above shows the signature in the electron's spectrum for an electron neutrino with a mass of 1 eV in comparison to the spectrum in case the neutrino was massless. The distortion is statistically significant only in a region close to the endpoint of the spectrum of E0 = 18.6keV. Since we already know that the electron neutrino's mass is very tiny, it requires such a huge spectrometer to resolve the spectrum of the electron's energy fine enough. The Design Report of the experiment says that they anticipate a sensitivity on the neutrino mass of 0.2 eV (90% C.L.) corresponding to a 5 sigma discovery potential for a mass of 0.35 eV.
See also: KATRIN moved
The detector was manufactured by MAN DWE in Deggendorf, but then had to be brought to Karlsruhe, which is about 400 km away from Deggendorf. However, since the tank is too big for motorways, the spectrometer had to make a detour of almost 9000 km as shown on this map. You find much more information about the detector at this website.
TAGS: PHYSICS, NEUTRINOS, KATRIN