U of I Professor Contributed to Nobel Prize Winning Research


CHAMPAIGN--The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two researchers from Canada and Japan for work that will change the way we think about the universe, but one professor at the University of Illinois contributed to the prize-winning research with his PhD thesis.

Mark Neubauer began studying neutrinos, which are subatomic particles, in 1994 at the University of Pennsylvania.

There are three types of these particles and previous research theorized they had no mass.

As a student, Neubauer studied neutrinos that come from the sun at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada.

Experiments showed that only a third of those neutrinos from the sun that were expected to be on earth were actually being found, which led to the conclusion that the other two-thirds were changing types.

To do that, these tiny particles must have mass, and it is that discovery that was awarded the Nobel Prize.

"The mass of neutrinos and how they mix with each other can affect our understanding of the evolution of the universe," said Neubauer, now a physicist at the U of I. "And other things like supernova. And other things where enormous amounts of neutrinos are emitted."

Neubauer says this discovery could help scientists determine whether the dark matter that makes up most of the universe could be comprised entirely of neutrinos.

This isn't the first time that Neubauer has been part of the team that's won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Back in 2012, he contributed to the research that won the prize that year.

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