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Cal State Dominguez Hills Team of Physicists
Carson, Calif. – A team of physicists from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) has been working as members of the international Super-Kamiokande collaboration, which just completed a new analysis of atmospheric neutrino data – laying to rest any doubt that neutrinos have mass.
In 1998, the collaboration produced evidence of neutrino mass, which changed the very groundwork of particle physics and which was recognized by Discover magazine as one of the year’s most important discoveries. Again, in 2002, the magazine recognized the collaboration’s significant findings.
CSUDH physics professors Kenneth Ganezer and James E. Hill, and William Keig, physics instructor at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS), located on the CSUDH campus, are part of the university’s team of researchers who have contributed to the Super-Kamiokande discoveries.
“The 1998 finding was the major one, first showing proof of neutrino mass. The year 2002 cleared up 90 percent of other possibilities, and this basically takes care of the final 10 percent,” says Ganezer, the lead neutrino investigator at the university who has been involved with neutrino research since 1983. “This is the smoking gun.”
For this analysis, the physicists refined their method of studying data, providing a simple one-experiment method for studying the neutrino oscillation effect. For the first time, it revealed a distinctive pattern of neutrino oscillations that had eluded them until now. “Some people call this the holy grail of neutrino physics because no one had truly seen this oscillatory pattern with one experiment before,” says Ganezer.
Super-Kamiokande, a 50,000-ton detector filled with highly purified water located in the Kamioka Mozumi mine in Japan, was designed to search for proton decay, observe cosmic rays and detect neutrinos. Atmospheric neutrinos are produced by high-energy collisions of cosmic rays with the Earth’s upper atmosphere before they arrive on Earth. The researchers discovered that neutrinos change from one form to another and that very act, according to scientific theory, indicates that they have mass.
For more than 15 years, the Super-Kamiokande collaboration, made up of about 140 physicists, has collectively conducted research and investigations on the sources and behavior of neutrinos. They represent colleges, laboratories, institutes and universities from Japan, the United States and Korea.
“Research of this kind is one of the most gratifying things for any scientist or academician,” says CSUDH physics professor Hill. “The idea that there’s more and more to be discovered is what keeps us going as scientists.”
The Super-Kamiokande collaboration will report its findings in a forthcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.
For more information on the university’s research concerning neutrinos and other topics in physics, visit www.physics.csudh.edu. For more information on CSUDH, visit www.csudh.edu. Additional information on the Super-Kamiokande collaboration can be found at www-sk.icrr.u-tokyo.ac.jp.
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Last updated Wednesday, July 19, 2004, 5:00 pm, by Donna Delfin (dd)