Japanese, Canadian scientists win Nobel Prize for Physics

Neutrinos had been theorized since the ground-breaking research of Wolfgang Pauli and Enrico Fermi in the 1930s, but were only confirmed in the late 1950s and still relatively little is known about the mysterious particles today.


Physics is the second of this year’s Nobels.

“New discoveries of the neutrino’s closely guarded secrets are expected to change our understanding of the history, structure and future fate of the universe”, the Nobel Committee wrote.

This April 11, 2008, photo shows scientist Arthur McDonald during his investiture as Officer to the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario.

Informed by phone of the prize, Kajita, who was born in 1959 in Japan, and directs the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research at the University of Tokyo, said simply: “Kind of unbelievable”.

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald from the University of Tokyo and Queen’s University in Canada have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which proved that neutrinos have mass. Neutrino’s come in three “flavors” (although they don’t carry a taste, just like Domino’s pizza) called electron, tau and muon. Thus the conclusion of the two experiments that the neutrinos had changed identities also resulted in the discovery of the fact that neutrinos have a few mass though very small.

Neutrinos are the second most abundant particles in the universe after photons, “so any property of neutrinos can have dramatic repercussions on the life of the universe and on its evolution, ” he said.

(CNN) – In a few hours, a team of academics in Stockholm will reveal to the world this year’s recipients of the Nobel Prize in physics. If we can catch enough of them, they can teach us about the processes at work in the sun and other stars, and they may even help us solve a few of the biggest mysteries in physics.

“A neutrino puzzle that physicists had wrestled with for decades had been resolved”, the Nobel body said.

Neutrinos are so non-reactive, they pass straight through solid objects such as planets. Although they have various origins, most of the particles which reach earth are the result of nuclear reactions inside the Sunday. The fact that neutrinos aren’t massless shows that the Standard Model can not be the complete theory of the fundamental constituents of the universe. Kajita and McDonald made their discoveries while working at the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan and Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada, respectively.

How many types of neutrinos are there?


The prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor (about ¥115 million) is divided equally between winners in physics.