Yifang Wang and the Daya Bay Collaboration
Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
For the fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the Standard Model of particle physics.
Sixty-five billion neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of your body every second, but since they are invisible and pass right through the Earth with scarcely any impacts, they are very hard to detect and study. Yifang Wang and the Daya Bay experiment in China discovered a new kind of neutrino “oscillation”, or spontaneous transformation of one species of neutrino into different types. This has major implications for our understanding of the Standard Model of particle physics and perhaps the origin of the matter-dominated Universe.
The Daya Bay experiment is a very special case, in China and the world, receiving funding from so many different sources. I would like to thank first the power plant that provided us troublemakers not only their assistance, but also a large fraction of our funding. This experiment could not have been realized without funding and support from local government and our national science funding agencies (the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology, and National Natural Science Foundation). A large fraction of funding is from the US DOE, and more comes from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. From this list, it seems a mystery that we are able to work together. But it is because we have a common goal: science. International collaboration is key for the success of this experiment, and, we believe, for the future of high-energy physics in general — in fact, for all our world’s concerns. Finally, I would like to thank my 200-plus colleagues in the Daya Bay experiment, from 40 institutions worldwide. I would also like to thank my family and in particular my wife, who has sacrificed a lot over the years to support my research activities.