Elusive particles must have mass, measurements in Japan, Canada showed
From left: K. MacFarlane/Queen's Univ./SNOLAB; Courtesy of the Univ. of Tokyo.
Capturing the identity-shifting behavior of neutrinos has won Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics. The scientists spearheaded giant underground experiments that revealed that the elusive particles morph from one variety into another. Those crucial findings demonstrated that neutrinos have mass, which confirmed many physicists’ suspicions but defies the standard model, the framework that predicts the properties of nature’s particles and forces.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” says Janet Conrad, a neutrino physicist at MIT. “I had been waiting for this for so many years.” Neutrino mass, though minuscule for individual particles, could have major implications for improving the standard model and understanding the evolution of the cosmos.
The neutrino has carried a mysterious allure since