How the last public execution in California gave us the meanest ghost in Napa

Some years before his public execution, William Roe convinced a friend to write a letter informing his family that he was dead.

According to that letter, Roe had been killed in a vague, accidental sort of way in the Black Hills. This was tragic for his family but exceedingly convenient for the career criminal, who was actually on the West Coast committing a series of misdeeds. Wanted by police, he decided faking his death in South Dakota was the best course of action for everyone.

Now nothing but a memory to his family, William Roe’s real, corporeal self began blazing a bloody trail across California. It was one particularly brutal murder that landed him in the Napa County Jail on the morning of Jan. 15, 1897, the day before the state of California was set to hang him by the neck until dead. Roe was at ease, chatting with reporters

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Understanding ghost particle interactions

Understanding ghost particle interactions
Cross sections of neutrino-nucleus interactions versus energy. Improved agreement between experiment and model calculations clearly shown for case of nucleon pair rather than single nucleon. Inset shows neutrino interacting with nucleus and ejecting a lepton. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

Scientists often refer to the neutrino as the “ghost particle.” Neutrinos were one of the most abundant particles at the origin of the universe and remain so today. Fusion reactions in the sun produce vast armies of them, which pour down on the Earth every day. Trillions pass through our bodies every second, then fly through the Earth as though it were not there.


“While first postulated almost a century ago and first detected 65 years ago, neutrinos remain shrouded in mystery because of their reluctance to interact with matter,” said Alessandro Lovato, a nuclear physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Lovato is a member of

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