Sussex physicists applaud Nobel Prize-winner and collaborator
University of Sussex physicists are congratulating a long-term close collaborator who has today (6 October 2015) been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Speaking of Professor Arthur McDonald’s success, Sussex particle physicist Dr Simon Peeters says: “I am somewhat stunned by this fantastic news, but very pleased for Art. It is a great recognition of his leadership and neutrino physics in general.”
Professor McDonald, of Queen’s University in Canada, was awarded the prize jointly with Professor Takaaki Kajita of Tokyo University for the discovery of “neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”.
Neutrinos are ghost-like sub-atomic particles that are found everywhere in the Universe and are so small that they can pass through the Earth without touching other particles.
Since 2003, Dr Peeters has worked on the Sudbury Neutrino Experiment (SNO) in Canada, where Professor McDonald made his discovery in 2002 and where he continues to carry out research.
Dr Peeters says: “The discovery made by SNO was a major step forward in our understanding of something that had puzzled physicists for decades. It was thought that neutrinos were without mass. But the experiment led by Art McDonald found that neutrinos were able to oscillate and change their identity, which meant that they must have mass.
“Neutrino oscillations could potentially answer one of the really big questions in modern science: Why is there more matter than anti-matter in the Universe? To answer this, we need to understand the neutrino oscillations even better than we do now and also to better understand what a neutrino particle actually is.”
Dr Peeters and his colleagues Dr Jeff Hartnell and Dr Elizabeth Falk are also involved with other international neutrino research projects, including DUNE, MINOS and NOvA – all of which are attempting to better understand the nature of neutrinos and with it, the role they play in the Universe.
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