Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Japanese physicist Takaaki Kajita and fellow Canadian Arthur B. McDonald.
For Japan, this is a boon to its science community, coming a day after microbiologist Satoshi Omura shared the Nobel Prize for medicine.
The two winners are pioneers in the experimental study of neutrino oscillations, with these subatomic particles changing "identity".
Observing these oscillations was crucial to determine the mass of the neutrino, a very important ingredient for the understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter.
“The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe,” the Nobel committee said.
Kajita, 56, works at the Super-Kamiokande detector beneath Japan's Mount Kamioka, in Gifu Prefecture.
McDonald, 72, leads a research group at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Ontario, Canada. His work demonstrated that neutrinos from the sun were not disappearing on their way to Earth but were captured instead with a different identity.
“A neutrino puzzle that physicists had wrestled with for decades had been resolved,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.