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Physics Nobel Prize 2015
Oct 08, 2015

The Nobel Prize 2015 in Physics jointly went to Takaaki Kajita from the University of Tokyo and Arthur B. McDonald from Queen's University, Canada for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities.

This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass. The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe.

Around the turn of the millennium, Takaaki Kajita presented the discovery that neutrinos from the atmosphere switch between two identities on their way to the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan.

Meanwhile, the research group in Canada led by Arthur B. McDonald could demonstrate that the neutrinos from the Sun were not disappearing on their way to Earth. Instead they were captured with a different identity when arriving to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

  • The discovery led to the far-reaching conclusion that neutrinos, which for a long time were considered massless, must have some mass, however small. 

  • For particle physics this was a historic discovery. 

  • Its Standard Model of the innermost workings of matter had been incredibly successful, having resisted all experimental challenges for more than twenty years. 

  • Many neutrinos are created in reactions between cosmic radiation and the Earth’s atmosphere. Others are produced in nuclear reactions inside the Sun. 

  • Thousands of billions of neutrinos are streaming through our bodies each second. Hardly anything can stop them passing; neutrinos are nature’s most elusive elementary particles.

  • Now the experiments continue and intense activity is underway worldwide in order to capture neutrinos and examine their properties. 

  • New discoveries about their deepest secrets are expected to change our current understanding of the history, structure and future fate of the universe.


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