Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on subatomic particles called neutrinos.
Takaaki Kajita, from the University of Tokyo, and Arthur B. McDonald, from Queen’s University, in Kingston, Canada, share the 2015 prize for discovering how neutrinos change identities and therefore must have mass.
“The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as it announced the award this morning.
The pair’s work has helped to explain why neutrinos from the Sun were not disappearing on their way to Earth, as previously thought, but had actually changed identities, the Nobel panel said.
“A neutrino puzzle that physicists had wrestled with for decades had been resolved,” a spokesman said in a release issued on 6 October.
According to the Nobel panel, neutrinos are “nature’s most elusive elementary particles”, which constantly bombard the Earth – with thousands of billions of neutrinos streaming through our bodies each second.
“New discoveries about their deepest secrets are expected to change our current understanding of the history, structure and future fate of the universe,” the Nobel panel said.
The win for Professor Kajita follows Japan’s success in last year’s physics category after three Japan-born scientists shared the prize for the invention of the blue light-emitting diode (LED).
Yesterday, Youyou Tu, an expert in Chinese traditional medicine who developed a breakthrough treatment for malaria, was named as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine – China’s first homegrown Nobel science laureate.