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Canadian and Japanese Physicists Share 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics
Brampton ON, October 7, 2015 — The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 has been captured by Canadian physicist Arthur B. McDonald. Professor McDonald shares the Nobel Prize with Takaaki Kajita of Japan, 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.
Professor Arthur McDonald is the Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNOLAB) in Sudbury, Ontario, and Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston. The research group in Canada led by Arthur B. McDonald could demonstrate that 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. A neutrino puzzle that physicists had wrestled with for decades had been resolved. Compared to theoretical calculations of the number of neutrinos, up to two thirds of the neutrinos were missing in measurements performed on Earth. Now, the two experiments discovered that the neutrinos had changed identities.
The discovery led to the far-reaching conclusion that neutrinos, which for a long time were considered massless, must have some mass, however small. The discovery rewarded with this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics have yielded crucial insights into the all but hidden world of neutrinos. After photons, the particles of light, neutrinos are the most numerous in the entire cosmos. The Earth is constantly bombarded by them.
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.
In August 2001, a collaboration at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), a detector facility located 6,800 feet (2,100 m) underground in a mine outside Sudbury, Ontario, led by Professor McDonald, checked in with a direct observation suggesting that electron neutrinos from the Sun really were oscillating into muon and tau neutrinos. SNO published its report in the August 13, 2001, issue of Physical Review Letters, and it is widely considered as a very important result. McDonald and Yoji Totsuka were awarded the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics "for discovering that the three known types of elementary particles called neutrinos change into one another when traveling over sufficiently long distances, and that neutrinos have mass.”
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