16 Oct 2015

OIST President Wins Particle Physics Prize

President Jonathan Dorfan of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), along with Drs. David Hitlin, Stephen Olsen and Fumihiko Takasaki, has been awarded the American Physical Society’s 2016 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics. The official citation states, “For leadership in the BABAR and Belle experiments, which established the violation of CP symmetry in B meson decay, and furthered our understanding of quark mixing and quantum chromodynamics”. This prestigious award, established in 1985, recognizes outstanding achievements in experimental particle physics.

Two particle physics experiments, BABAR, at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), which ran from 1999 to 2008, and Belle which ran from 1999 to 2010 at KEK, the laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan, explored the conditions of the early universe by creating and analyzing huge numbers of B mesons, particles that contain a bottom quark. The primary goal was to probe the differences between B mesons and their antiparticles to help understand why the universe is dominated by matter with no antimatter present.

The two experiments’ precise measurements of differences between matter and antimatter have proved the theory of Drs. Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa, resulting in the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Jonathan Dorfan and David Hitlin were major contributors to the BABAR experiment. Dorfan was instrumental not only in designing and constructing the BABAR detector at SLAC, but also played a central role in the construction and start up of the PEP II accelerator. Stephen Olsen and Fumihiko Takasaki were similarly key to the success of the Belle experiment.

By Neil Calder


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