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AIP's 2015 Physics Nobel Prize Resources Page

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Resources Page Offers Context, Commentary, Technical Manuscripts and More on the Discovery of Neutrino Oscillations

WASHINGTON D.C., October 6, 2015 -- The 2015 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded today to Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur B. McDonald of Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada for "the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass."

To help journalists and the public understand the context of this work, AIP has compiled a Physics Nobel Prize Resources page featuring relevant scientific papers and articles, quotes from experts and other resources. Seminal papers from the American Physical Society as well as coverage of that work in Physics Today and other relevant papers published by AIP Publishing have now been made freely available. The page will be updated throughout the day and can be accessed at


Neutrinos are subatomic particles that, though tiny, are teeming. Thousands of billions of neutrinos pass through your body each second and scientists estimate that the weight of all the neutrinos in the universe is about equal to the weight of all the visible stars. Yet for a long time physicists thought neutrinos were massless. The 2015 Nobel Prize in physics honors the work of two teams who discovered evidence that neutrinos can change type, which proves that the elusive particles have mass. The finding contradicts the Standard Model, the best set of equations to date that describes the universe's fundamental particles and how they interact, and suggests new physics is still out there, waiting to be uncovered. 

Neutrinos come in three types, called flavors: electron, tau and muon. In 1998, Takaaki Kajita presented data from the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan that showed neutrinos created in reactions between cosmic rays and the earth's atmosphere switch types as they travel through the earth to reach the bottom of the detector. In 2001, a research group led by Arthur B. McDonald at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) in Canada revealed that neutrinos coming from the sun can also undergo a metamorphosis. 

Both experiments required feats of engineering to construct the enormous detectors needed to catch a glimpse of the elusive neutrinos, which hardly ever interact with other matter. The SNO detector, for example, contained 1,000 tonnes of heavy water in a 12-meter-diameter sphere. The space was monitored by 9,500 photomultiplier tubes and surrounded by ultra-pure water to shield against radioactive decay in the surrounding environment. 

Statement from AIP CEO Robert G.W. Brown

"This year’s prize highlights a seriously important step in our understanding of the fundamental particles of the universe, and one that has improved our understanding of both particle physics and cosmology," said Robert G.W. Brown, CEO of the American Institute of Physics. 

“You can chalk up yet another success for quantum mechanics because without it we would not be able to make sense of the experimental results that have led to this prize," he added. "Once again quantum mechanics and wave interference provided an explanation for oscillatory behavior — this time with mass and previously with photons."

Seminal Papers from the American Physical Society (APS) — Now Available for Free

The Nobel Committee noted the three APS journal articles listed below as being critical to the prize citation, and the APS has made the papers freely available.

Evidence for Oscillation of Atmospheric Neutrinos
Y. Fukuda et al. (Super-Kamiokande Collaboration)
Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 1562 (24 August 1998) 

Measurement of the Rate of ν + d → p + p +e − Interactions Produced by 8 B Solar Neutrinos at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
Q.R. Ahmad et al  (SNO collaboration)
Phys. Rev. Lett. 87, 071301 (13 August 2001) 

Direct Evidence for Neutrino Flavor Transformation from Neutral-Current Interactions in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
Q. R. Ahmad et al.
Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 011301 (13 June 2002)

Related Physics Today Articles — Now Available for Free

Cosmic‐Ray Showers Provide Strong Evidence of Neutrino Flavor Oscillation
Bertram Schwarzschild, Physics Today 51, 17 (1998) 

Strong Evidence for Flavor Oscillation in Atmospheric Neutrinos
Bertram Schwarzschild, Physics Today 51, 19 (1998)

First Events Seen at Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
Richard Fitzgerald, Physics Today 52, 18 (1999) 

Novel heavy-water detector unveils the missing solar neutrinos
Bertram Schwarzschild, Physics Today 54, 13 (2001) 

Solar Neutrino Experiments: The Next Generation
John N. Bahcall, Frank Calaprice, Arthur B. McDonald and Yoji Totsuka, Physics Today 49, 30 (1996) 

Related articles from AIP Publishing — Now Available for Free

Paper by Both Winners:

Astrophysical neutrino telescopes
A. B. McDonald, C. Spiering, S. Schönert, E. T. Kearns and T. Kajita
Rev. Sci. Instrum. 75, 293 (2004) 

Papers by Takaaki Kajita:

Neutrino oscillations: Atmospheric, long baseline, and reactor experiments
Takaaki Kajita 
AIP Conf. Proc. 610, 3 (2002) 

Latest results from Super-Kamiokande
Takaaki Kajita and Super-Kamiokande Collaboration 
AIP Conf. Proc. 539, 31 (2000) 

Topics in neutrino physics including new results from Super-Kamiokande
Takaaki Kajita 
AIP Conf. Proc. 412, 146 (1997) 

Recent results from Kamiokande on solar and atmospheric neutrinos
T. Kajita 
AIP Conf. Proc. 272, 1187 (1992)  

KAMIOKANDE* KAMIOKA Nucleon Decay Experiments; status and performance
K. Arisaka, T. Kajita, T. Kifune, M. Koshiba, K. Miyano, M. Nakahata, T. Suda, A. Suzuki, K. Takahashi, M. Takita and Y. Totsuka 
AIP Conf. Proc. 114, 54 (1984) 

Papers by Arthur B. McDonald:

Solar Neutrinos, SNO and SNOLAB
A. B. McDonald 
AIP Conf. Proc. 917, 35 (2007) 

Direct Evidence for Neutrino Flavor Transformation from Neutral‐Current Interactions in SNO
A. B. McDonald, Q. R. Ahmad, R. C. Allen, T. C. Andersen, J. D. Anglin, et al.
AIP Conf. Proc. 646, 43 (2002) 

Polarized gaseous He targets
T. E. Chupp, R. A. Loveman, M. E. Wagshul, A. M. Bernstein, W. Fong, A. K. Thompson, D. Tieger, K. von Reden, K. P. Coulter, A. B. McDonald and W. Happer 
AIP Conf. Proc. 187, 1320 (1989) 

A D2O Cerenkov detector for solar neutrinos
E. D. Earle, G. T. Ewan, H. W. Lee, H.‐B. Mak, B. C. Robertson, R. C. Allen, H. H. Chen, P. J. Doe, D. Sinclair, W. F. Davidson, C. Hargrove, R. S. Storey, G. Aardsma, P. Jagam, J. J. Simpson, E. D. Hallman, A. B. McDonald, A. L. Carter and D. Kessler
AIP Conf. Proc. 150, 1094 (1986)  

Parity violation in proton‐proton scattering at intermediate energies
V. Yuan, H. Frauenfelder, R. W. Harper, J. D. Bowman, R. Carlini, D. W. MacArthur, R. E. Mischke, D. E. Nagle, R. L. Talaga and A. B. McDonald 
AIP Conf. Proc. 150, 1189 (1986)  

Parity nonconservation in proton‐water scattering at 800 MeV
D. E. Nagle, J. D. Bowman, R. Carlini, R. E. Mischke, H. Frauenfelder, R. W. Harper, V. Yuan, A. B. McDonald and R. Talaga
AIP Conf. Proc. 95, 150 (1983)  

Polarized photons for a measurement of parity violation in deuterium
A. B. McDonald, E. D. Earle and E. T. H. Clifford 
AIP Conf. Proc. 95, 586 (1983)  

Parity violation in the np system at low energy
A. B. McDonald 
AIP Conf. Proc. 69, 1358 (1981)  

An experiment to measure parity violation in the H(γ,n)H reaction
E. D. Earle, A. B. McDonald and J. W. Knowles 
AIP Conf. Proc. 69, 1436 (1981)  



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