A neutrino is a fermion that interacts only via the weak interaction and gravity. The neutrino is so named because it is electrically neutral and because its rest mass is so small that it was long thought to be zero. The rest mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles excluding massless particles. The weak force has a very short range, the gravitational interaction is extremely weak, and neutrinos do not participate in the strong interaction.
Thus, neutrinos typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected.
Weak interactions create neutrinos in one of three leptonic flavors: electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos, or tau neutrinos, in association with the corresponding charged lepton. Although neutrinos were long believed to be massless, it is now known that there are three discrete neutrino masses with different tiny values, but they do not correspond uniquely to the three flavors. A neutrino created with a specific flavor has an associated specific quantum superposition of all three mass states. As a result, neutrinos oscillate between different flavors in flight.
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