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2016 Breakthrough Prize awarded to neutrino research

by CIFAR Dec 7 / 17

The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory project team, led by CIFAR Associate Fellow Arthur McDonald (Queen’s University), shared a $3 million prize for the discovery that neutrinos oscillate between different types, or flavours, which means they must have mass.

SNO_support_outsideOutside view of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory photomultiplier tube support structure. Credit: SNO

The honour follows McDonald’s 2015 Nobel Prize for the same project, carried out using a neutrino detector in the Vale Creighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, that operated between 1999 and 2006. The Breakthrough Prize creators include Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, and Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google. The selection committee includes CIFAR Associate Fellow Andrei Linde (Stanford University) and former Associate Fellow Stephen Hawking. This year’s prize went to five experiments that all studied neutrinos. Three of the projects were based in Japan and one in China. All 1,300 physicists that comprise the experiment teams will share recognition.

The prize is awarded each year for breakthroughs in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics at a red carpet gala in California. This year’s ceremony, on Nov. 8, was hosted by Seth MacFarlane and featured a performance by Pharrell Williams.