The Nobel-winning discoveries did more than answer the question of the seemingly missing neutrinos.
Mr. McDonald is a professor emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. It had been believed since their discovery in the 1950s that they have no mass, making experiments involving them impossible. “Neutrinos are nature’s most elusive elementary particles”.
“Neutrinos punch above their weight”. Add them all up and the total mass is equal to the masses of the stars.
“Because there are so many of them, the total mass is significant and affects the formation of galaxies and how we understand the universe in general”, said Prof. Neutrinos are so small that about a billion neutrinos pass through a human thumb every second. “This tells us our picture of how energy is produced in the sun is correct”, rather than being fundamentally flawed as physicists had feared for several decades. “I have postulated a particle that can not be detected”.
This generates Cherenkov radiation that is measured by the light sensors. When only electron neutrinos were counted, there were far fewer neutrinos than predicted. “Something wrong with the detector?”
The Nobel Prize is almost always high concept stuff – and perhaps the physics one most especially.
In the 1960s, a physicist named Ray Davis set up a huge detector 4,850 feet underground in an active gold mine in South Dakota.
Joseph Lykken, deputy director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, says the discoveries for which the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded this year “put the neutrinos front and center as one of the big mysteries of physics”.
Still unknown: Just how much do neutrinos weigh? The sun produces only electron neutrinos.
Kajita won his share of the prize for his own neutrino research in Japan’s Super-Kamioka (or Super-K) neutrino research lab.
The existence of neutrinos was first proven in 1956.
1999: McDonald announces that neutrinos from the Sun were not “disappearing”, as long suspected, but changing form before they arrive at an observatory in Ontario, Canada. However, it was buried even deeper, under more than 2,000 meters of rock.
“These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually”, said the organisers. It is different from ordinary water in that each hydrogen atom in the water molecules has an extra neutron in its nucleus, creating the hydrogen isotope deuterium.
“Yes, there certainly was a “eureka” moment”. McDonald said that scientists would still like to know what the actual mass of the neutrino is.
“The universe where we live in is still full of unknowns”, he said.
What the public may not realize is “that’s the hard part of any experiment”, Beier said, in terms of eliminating sources of error. “The new observations had clearly showed that the Standard Model can not be the complete theory of the fundamental constituents of the universe”. Proposed in 1930 and affirmed in the 1950s, neutrinos were long thought to be absolutely massless.
“We now have drugs that kill these parasites very early in their life-cycle”, said Juleen Zierath, chair of the Nobel Committee.
So neutrinos may hold the key to expanding our understanding of matter. That’s because, according to special relativity, massless particles would have to travel at light speed, in which case time for them would stand still and any change would be impossible.
Quantum physics suggests that any object, such as an electron, can act as either a solid particle or a rippling wave.
The mile of rock above would act like a filter and the scientists would measure the interactions between the neutrino and the particle inside. On that list are three slippery characters: the neutrinos.
The two men were lauded for their contributions to experiments demonstrating that the subatomic particles called neutrinos change identities.