Smart Education in Canada : Laurentian University celebrates Nobel Prize in Physics

Colleagues and associates of Dr. Arthur McDonald at Laurentian University and at the SNOLAB research facility are applauding the news that Dr. McDonald is a co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Dr. McDonald, emeritus professor at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario was jointly named this year’s Nobel Laureate with Dr. Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan. Dr. McDonald was honoured for his work in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, a collaboration between Laurentian University and five other Canadian universities.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the prize was awarded to Doctors McDonald and Kajita for their “key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass. The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe.”

Word of the Nobel award spread through the Laurentian community “at the speed of a neutrino,” said Dr. Doug Hallman, professor emeritus of Physics at Laurentian University and an early collaborator in the SNOLAB work with Dr. McDonald. “This is terrific news for all of us who have been engaged in the SNO neutrino research,” said Dr. Hallman. “This is the ultimate prize in science, and we are thrilled to see the work recognized at this level.”

Laurentian University is a founding member of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Institute. Over a 20-year period, Laurentian’s SNO group has been a major contributor to the design, construction and operations of the SNO laboratory, a unique facility built two kilometers below surface at the Vale Creighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario. The underground environment enabled SNO researchers to make their groundbreaking neutrino measurements with minimal background interference. More than 150 researchers from universities and research institutions in Canada, the United States and Europe participated in the SNO project.

The SNO laboratory ended its data taking in 2006 but analyses and publications of results are continuing. The SNO detector is now in the final stages of conversion to a new SNO+ experiment, which will measure lower energy neutrinos from the sun and the earth and search for a rare nuclear decay process to find out more about the nature of neutrinos.

Building on the success of the SNO experiment, an expanded underground facility, SNOLAB has been constructed adjacent to the SNO laboratory and now houses a group of new experiments. The underground cleanroom facility, the deepest in the world, has the lowest background radiation environment, allowing researchers to take highly sensitive measurements with minimal interference.

“We are thrilled with the awarding of this prize and congratulate Dr. McDonald and all of our faculty and collaborating researchers for their contributions to this exciting area of science over the years,” said Laurentian University President and Vice-Chancellor, Dominic Giroux. “We welcome the new groups of scientists who will be doing their work at the facility, and are excited by the additional collaborations and research initiatives at SNOLAB as the next generation of underground experiments gets underway.”

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