California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) physics faculty Ken Ganezer, Jim Hill, and William Keig were among 1,377 researchers on five teams honored with the “Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics” on Nov. 8 for their study and findings regarding neutrino oscillation.
The $3 million prize was accepted by the five team leaders at an Academy Award-style ceremony attended by many Hollywood stars and broadcast nationally on FOX. The prize money will be shared among all members of the teams.
Hill, chair of CSUDH’s Academic Senate, Ganezer and Keig were part of the team led by Takaaki Kayita and Yoichori Suzuki, which conducted its research at the Super-Kamiokande (Super-K) detector, a nucleon decay and neutrino observatory in Hida, Japan. In October, Kajita received the 2015 Nobel Prize< in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations.
The Breakthrough Prize is awarded in recognition of scientific advance in three categories: life sciences, mathematics and fundamental physics. The awards were founded by Sergey Brin (Google) and Anne Wojcicki (23andMe), Jack Ma (Alibaba) and Cathy Zang, Yuri and Julia Milner (DST Global), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Pricilla Chan.
The prize for fundamental physics was established in 2012 by Milner, Russian entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist, to recognize physicists researching “the deepest mysteries of the Universe.”
“This relatively new prize is unique because it stresses collaborations, which are pivotal in much of contemporary science, and within international, multiple-disciplined efforts involving the mixing of math, biology, and physics,” said Ganezer, who also believes the large cash prize adds “credibility” to the field. “Famous donors, such as Mark Zuckerberg, and a televised award show with a comedian host [Seth MacFarlane], also help to build interest among young people in pursuing careers in breakthrough physics and science.”
In April 2015, Ganezer, Hill, Keig and CSUDH lecturer Brandon Hartfiel co-authored the study “Search for n−n(bar) oscillation in Super-Kamiokande,” which was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Physical Review D.