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Rutherford Explanation This Week

Rutherford Explanation This Week

An explanation why the discovery of the atomic nucleus did not earn Ernest Rutherford a second Nobel Prize will be given to hundreds of neutrino physicists from around the world in Christchurch this week.

The University of Canterbury is sponsoring the 23rd International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics at the Christchurch Convention Centre from May 25 to 31.

More than 300 neutrino physicists will hear the latest research results in experimental and theoretical neutrino physics. Neutrinos are very light elementary particles that exist in vast numbers in the universe. More than a trillion solar neutrinos pass through the human body each second.

The conference's first presentation will be delivered by Professor Cecilia Jarlskog of Lund University, Sweden, who was on the physics Nobel Prize committee for many years. She will talk about how Rutherford made the greatest discovery of his career after winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and will explain why his achievement did not earn him a second Nobel Prize.

The conference is being held in Christchurch to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rutherford winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and celebrate the ICECUBE experiment at the South Pole.

ICECUBE is a very large cube of ice more than 1 kilometre below the surface of the South Pole which is fitted with scientific instruments to observe the likes of neutrino sources in our galaxy. The ICECUBE experiment and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) are also sponsoring the conference.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to learn about neutrinos at a free lecture at 8pm on Friday May 30 at the Christchurch Convention Centre by Dr Stephen Parke. He is New Zealand born and educated, and is currently senior scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His lecture is titled: "Neutrinos: Ghosts of the Universe".


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