AstroTalk Episode October 8, 2015

Water on Mars and Canadian Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

3:01pm - 3:29pm

Water on Mars may be easy to detect, well, not really so easy, but finding where the water comes from is going to be much harder. Spelunkers or hikers may need to search out where the water comes from. So it may be much, much harder to find the source of the water, than it was to actually say that WE HAVE WATER ON MARS!!! A Canadian, Arthur B. McDonald, from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration and Queen’s University, is this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics. Dr. McDonald is sharing the prize with Takaaki Kajita, from the Super-Kamiokande Collaboration, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan. The prize was awarded for the pair's research in neutrino research. Neutrinos are tiny particles that are produced in the cores of stars. They are also produced in abundance when a star explodes in a supernova explosion. 99% of the energy from a supernova explosion is thought to be carried away by neutrinos. According to the Standard Model of Particle Physics, it was assumed that neutrinos have zero mass.The Standard Model has worked very well in providing excellent descriptions for the behavior of nearly all elementary particles, but it seems to have failed for the neutrino. Dr. McDonald and Kajita have shown that neutrinos oscillate. If they oscillate, then they must have mass. This discovery will surely affect our view of the universe. Will the Standard Model have to be revised after these finding on neutrinos? Finally, photos from the New Horizons Spacecraft were discussed. New Horizons whizzed by the dwarf planet Pluto on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 kilomteres of the dwarf planet. On September 5, New Horizons began sending back data and pictures on its close encounter with Pluto. All the data will take approximately 1 year to be intercepted and downloaded on Earth. Today, some of the findings from the pictures were discussed. More pictures on the encounter can be seen at www. nasa. gov.