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Is this just a historical artifact - that the particle physics community decided at some point to call all of the pre-oscillation physics by the name the "Standard Model"? The reason I ask is because I often see articles and books say something to the effect "the strongest hint of physics beyond the SM are the non-zero neutrino masses" as if this is something significant and mysterious - whereas from what I gathered from the answer to a question I asked previously , lepton mixing is something natural and unsurprising. So why aren't neutrino oscillations considered part of the SM? I am not asking out of any sociological interest but because I want to make sure I haven't underestimated the significance of the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

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The historical formulation of the SM involved one Higgs doublet and only renormalizable couplings, the latter being due to the focus at the time on achieving a renormalizable formulation of the weak interactions. With these restrictions neutrinos are massless and do not oscillate. To get neutrino masses you need to extend this framework either by adding non-renormalizable dimension 5 operators, which one would naturally expect to be there in the framework of effective field theory, or you have to add renormalizable couplings involving new fields, typically including SM singlet Weyl fermions (i.e. right-handed neutrinos) and a SM singlet Higgs field. How much of an extension of the SM this really involves is subjective. There were many theoretical papers speculating on such extensions before the actual discovery of neutrino oscillations.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand something with this answer. What prevents to add for the 3 $\nu_L$ members of the lepton $SU(2)$ doublet, the 3 corresponding singlets $\nu_R$ as for $e_R, \mu_R, \tau_R$. Then the corresponding Yukawa couplings have just to be added to generate $\nu$ masses as for the charged leptons. It's a trivial extension of the Standard Model. There is nothing being not renormalizable with such trivial extension no? $\endgroup$ – Paganini Jun 2 '15 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Paganini: this answer makes the SM with neutrino masses sound much more different from the SM without neutrino masses than it actually is. There is no reason to mention dimension-5 operators or a singlet Higgs field as they have nothing to do with the difference. $\endgroup$ – benrg Jul 31 '16 at 19:22
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Because neutrinos were still widely considered massless at the time "The Standard Model" was formulated.

One could argue that we're on StandardModel v2.3ish at this point and that the up-to-date release includes massive, mixing neutrinos, but that just leads to a confusion of terminology.

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    $\begingroup$ Just a small comment. The mass scale of neutrino masses is approximately of the order $m_{electroweak}^2 / m_{GUT}$ which justifies the see-saw mechanism. An off-diagonal matrix element at the electroweak scale and diagonal entries being zero and the GUT scale produce one neutrino that is very heavy, near the GUT scale, and one neutrino that is much smaller than the electroweak scale. So the dimension 5 operators that Jeff Harvey explains in the first answer have the right size if there is new physics at the GUT scale. In this sense, the size of neutrino masses is an indirect evidence for GUT. $\endgroup$ – Luboš Motl Feb 13 '11 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ -1: the standard mode neutrinos are 100% massless because the theory does not allow masses period. Otherwise it wouldn't be a good theory. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 9 '11 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ My impression is that "Standard Model" these days tends to include neutrino masses (via the, er, standard mechanism). Confusing or not, that is the standard model now. Like "standard C++" and "modern art", the meaning changes with time. It would be nice if we had a better name for the Model Formerly Known as Standard, though. $\endgroup$ – benrg Jul 31 '16 at 20:31
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I'll add reference to the "Ten Lectures on the ElectroWeak Interactions" by Barbieri. In my opinion -- the best reading on the electroweak physics.

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Because there are different extensions you can use to give mass to the neutrinos. You can put mass only in left neutrinos, or you can add right neutrinos, and it is even unclear how many species to add. Of course, a GUT-like neutrino, as in SO(10) etc, seems preferable, but it is not the only option.

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  • $\begingroup$ Right neutrinos, you said? I probably missed such important achievement of particle physics as discovery of right neutrinos. Could you provide references? $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Aug 22 '14 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ @IncnisMrsi Afaik the formulas describing them can have chirality-dependent values. He didn't mention they had been actually discovered (what didn't happen until now, it is even possible that neutrino-right == antineutrino). $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 19 '16 at 21:18

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