Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Departmental Colloquium- Hiro Tanaka

Hiro Tanaka, IPP scientist
University of Toronto

November 20th, 2015
1:30 p.m. in Theatre A

Title: Neutrinos: the desperate remedy


If something can't be detected, can we actually say it exists? This was the conundrum facing Wolfgang Pauli when he proposed that a neutral particle (i.e. the neutrino) is emitted in the beta decay of a nucleus.

While it solved some profound mysteries, it was soon suggested that such a particle would be impossible to detect. Nearly a century later, we not only have detected neutrinos, but understand that they come in three species, have antimatter counterparts, and that they play a crucial role as fundamental building blocks of the  Universe and in determining its structure. I will discuss how neutrino oscillations, the discovery of which was awarded this year's Nobel Prize have uncovered some of its fundamental properties (such as  the fact that it has a tiny but non-zero mass). Befitting its history, these studies have answered some questions about neutrinos but the  answers are bizarre and raise new questions. In the near future, we hope to understand the relationship between the neutrino and antineutrino, which may provide critical clues in the continuing paradox of how the universe came to be dominated by matter.