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The experiment that proved that neutrinos change “flavours” and have mass – a discovery that ultimately led to a shared Nobel Prize in Physics for Queen’s Professor Emeritus Art McDonald in 2015 – was decades in the making and took the skilled work of hundreds of international and Canadian scientists and researchers, many of them students and post-doctoral fellows. Dr. McDonald led the team, known as the SNO (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) Collaboration, working out of SNOLAB, a laboratory located two kilometres underground in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont. Shielded from cosmic rays, the lab and SNO experiment would prove that neutrinos change identities en route to Earth from the core of the sun – groundbreaking findings that offer profound insights into the nature of the universe.
Dr. McDonald shared the 2015 Nobel Prize with Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita, who similarly found that neutrinos created in the atmosphere underwent a metamorphosis in their journey to Earth. Two years later, the Nobel Prize continues to have positive ripple effects for students and researchers, spurring increased interest in physics at Queen’s and other institutions, and placing renewed focus on the power of collaborative research projects.
SNOLAB is a laboratory located two kilometres underground in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont. Working in the unique environment of the lab, Queen’s University researcher Art McDonald was able to make a discovery that earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics.