, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 515-565
Date: 25 Jul 2012

Towards high-energy neutrino astronomy

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The search for the sources of cosmic rays is a three-fold assault, using charged cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos. The first conceptual ideas to detect high energy neutrinos date back to the late fifties. The long evolution towards detectors with a realistic discovery potential started in the seventies and eighties, with the pioneering works in the Pacific Ocean close to Hawaii and in Lake Baikal in Siberia. But only now, half a century after the first concepts, such a detector is in operation: IceCube at the South Pole. We do not yet know whether with IceCube we will indeed detect extraterrestrial high energy neutrinos or whether this will remain the privilege of next generation telescopes. But whatever the answer will be: the path to the present detectors was a remarkable journey. This review sketches its main milestones.