Lab Canada

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory wins $3M Breakthrough Prize

Kingston, ON – Queen’s University professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Arthur McDonald, representing the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) Collaboration, has received the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The partnership received the prize at a ceremony and gala on Nov. 8 at the NASA Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California.

 “Our collaboration members are very pleased to receive this testimony to the scientific significance of their work,” said Dr. McDonald. “Our findings are a result of many years of hard work starting in 1984, led by George Ewan of Queen’s University and Herb Chen of the University of California, Irvine.”

The SNO collaboration was selected by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation “for the fundamental discovery of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics.”

Founded by Russian entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist Yuri Milner, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists — theoretical, mathematical and experimental — working on the deepest mysteries of the universe. The prize is one of three awarded by the Breakthrough Foundation for outstanding contributions in life sciences, fundamental physics, and mathematics.

The research at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, for which Dr. McDonald this year also received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, took place two kilometres underground in Vale’s Creighton mine near Sudbury, Ontario. Their findings demonstrated that neutrinos change their type – or flavour – on their way to Earth from the sun, a discovery that requires neutrinos to have a mass greater than zero. The results also confirmed the theories of energy generation in the sun with great accuracy.

The $3-million prize is shared with four other international experimental collaborations studying neutrino oscillations: The Superkamiokande, Kamland, T2K/K2K and Daya Bay scientific collaborations.

Reported by Chris Armes, Queens University