University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Thursday, February 25th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: John Wilkerson, University of North Carolina
Subject:  The Neutrino — Beyond the Standard Model
Refreshments to be served outside 101 Fraser after the colloquium.

Today we know that neutrinos are not the “dull”, massless particles originally encompassed in the standard model of fundamental interactions. Instead, we have discovered — as recognized by the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics —that neutrinos oscillate as they travel through space and matter, and have tiny, yet to be understood masses. Because neutrinos are amongst the most abundant particles in the universe, these revolutionary discoveries about neutrinos have far reaching consequences for cosmology, astrophysics, and our basic understanding of fundamental interactions. Yet there remain intriguing and unanswered questions about neutrino properties: Is lepton number a conserved quantity? Are neutrinos their own anti-particle (Majorana as opposed to Dirac)? How much do neutrinos weigh? The search for a postulated rare decay process known as neutrinoless double beta decay potentially holds the key to answering these questions and to further elucidating the properties of these elusive subatomic particles.

Faculty Host: Marvin Marshak

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