A collage showing images of the history of neutrinos research at Oxford
Credit: Various copyright: A.Booth/CERN/Perkins Conference/DUNE Fermilab

Understanding the ghost particle

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Exploring Oxford's 50-year contribution to neutrino research

The Particle Physics sub-department at Oxford (some alumni may remember it as the Nuclear Physics department) has played a key role in neutrino research over the last 50 years; here, we consider this remarkable contribution and look ahead to the future of particle physics at Oxford.

We will be hearing from Professor David Wark as well as Professor Steve Biller while Professor Daniela Bortoletto, Head of Particle Physics at Oxford will be hosting the lecture and moderating the Q&A session.


Professor Steve Biller  Neutrinos are one of the most fundamental and enigmatic particles in nature, with a history of throwing up surprises and having properties that are still not entirely understood. The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), in which Oxford physicists played a central role, was a seminal experiment in Canada studying neutrinos from the Sun. This experiment found the first unambiguously proof that neutrinos can transform between different varieties, demonstrating that neutrinos exists as mixed states and have mass. These properties are beyond predictions of The Standard Model of particle physics and earned the project a Nobel Prize in 2015. Today, a variation of that experiment, using techniques developed at Oxford, is pursuing a new and even more challenging question: SNO+ will search for a rare decay process to look for evidence that neutrinos can also transform into their own antiparticles. Such a discovery would have profound implications for the origin of neutrino mass and could provide an explanation for the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe that explains how we all managed to survived annihilation.

Professor David Wark The demonstration of the existence of neutrino oscillations discussed by Steve Biller in the first talk has opened a new doorway to explore the properties of neutrinos by using beams of neutrinos created by accelerators hundreds of miles away from the detectors.  Such neutrino beams, in the invention of which Don Perkins played a pioneering role, have been used to probe a number of fundamental questions, such as “What is the pattern of neutrino masses?” and “Do neutrinos and anti-neutrinos oscillate in the same way?”.  Both these questions are of profound importance to fundamental particle physics, but also to cosmology.  Dave Wark’s talk will discuss the important role that Oxford physicists have played in the discoveries already made by such “long baseline” experiments and our role in the exciting plans for two vast future experiments, DUNE in the United States and Hyper Kamiokande in Japan.

This event is free however registration is required.