The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics honors radical research on neutrino particles
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on October 6 announced the winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. The award was given to Takaaki Kajita from Japan and Arthur B. McDonald from Canada “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.”
Neutrinos are the most abundant particles found in the universe after photons, the particles of light. Kajita and Mcdonald’s discoveries have resolved a missing piece of puzzle in the understanding of neutrinos: their research has demonstrated that neutrinos change identities, which implies that they have mass. While Kajita discovered that neutrinos from the atmosphere switch between two identities, McDonald demonstrated that the neutrinos from the Sun were not disappearing on their way to the Earth, but were captured with a different identity.
According to the Academy, “New discoveries about their [neutrinos’] deepest secrets are expected to change our current understanding of the history, structure and future fate of the universe.” Thus, Kajita and McDonald were honored with the Nobel Prize for having provided crucial insights into the hitherto unexplored world of neutrinos, which is likely to have a great impact on the field.
Congratulations to the winners!
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