Neutrino Results from Daya Bay Named One of Top 10 Science Breakthroughs of 2012
The neutrino result published in March 2012 by the members of the Daya Bay experiment in China was named one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of the year by the AAAS journal Science. IIT's own Christopher White, chair and professor of physics, is part of the international Daya Bay team.
In addition, Russell Betts, dean of the College of Science and Letters and professor of physics, does research work at CERN, site of the year's top scientific breakthrough: the discovery of the Higgs-Boson.
Science said of the Daya Bay breakthrough:
Born in certain nuclear interactions, neutrinos come in three types or flavors that change into one another in so-called neutrino oscillations. The rates and extents to which the flavors mix depend on six parameters: the three differences between the neutrinos' masses, and three "mixing angles." In March, the 250 researchers with the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment in China reported that last unknown parameter, the mixing angle known as θ13 (pronounced "theta one three"), equals 8.8°, give or take 0.8°.
The result itself is remarkable, as it's not every year that physicists measure a new fundamental parameter. The real excitement, however, stems from the result's broader implications. The measurement proves that all three mixing angles are greater than zero. That fact, in turn, implies that the oscillations of antineutrinos might differ from those of neutrinos, something that would not be possible had θ13 equaled zero.
That's a big deal. Such a difference would be an example of an asymmetry between matter and antimatter known as CP violation. Physicists have already observed CP violation among particles called quarks, but they know that it isn't pronounced enough to explain why particles of normal matter vastly outnumber particles of antimatter in the universe. Physicists think that if there is CP violation among neutrinos, then it may be more analogous to the effect that created the matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe.
The article can be found here: goo.gl/uo7Gy
You can see a video about the Daya Bay results here: goo.gl/WmZnZ
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