This years recipient of the Watkin's Prize in Physics is Professor Francis Halzen, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prof. Halzen holds two endowed chairs the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Professor of Physics. He is the spokesman of the Ice Cube experiment, a neutrino astronomical observatory at the south pole, and was the principle organizer for creating this experiment. He is a famed theoretical particle physicists and the director of the institute for theoretical particle physics at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of the standard text book used in the senior undergraduate and first year graduate classes in elementary particle Physics. His many achievements in Science and the ability to communicate its need to the public makes him our main choice for this award for 2008.
Public Lecture: Hubbard Hall 208 March 4, 7 PM
Neutrino Astronomy at the South Pole
Abstract: An international collaboration is melting eighty holes over two kilometer deep in the Antarctic icecap over the next five years to be used as an astronomical observatory. Into each hole is lowered a string knotted with football-size light detectors which are sensitive to the shimmering blue light emitted in the surrounding clear ice when ghostly particles called neutrinos pass through the Earth. These neutrinos are cosmic messengers from the most violent processes in the Universe, for instance giant black holes gobbling up stars in the heart of quasars, and gamma-ray bursts which are the biggest explosions since the Big Bang. Neutrinos will tell us if there are dark matter particles trapped in the heart of the Sun, and perhaps even reveal if there are additional dimensions in space.
Physics Seminar: Jabara Hall 128 March 5, 2 PM
High-Energy Neutrino Astronomy: Towards Kilometer-Scale Neutrino Observatories.
Abstract: Kilometer-scale neutrino detectors such as IceCube are discovery instruments covering nuclear and particle physics, cosmology and astronomy. Examples of their multidisciplinary missions include the search for the particle nature of dark matter and for additional small dimensions of space. In the end, their conceptual design is very much anchored to the observational fact that Nature produces protons and photons with energies in excess of 1020 and1013 electron-volts, respectively. The cosmic ray connection sets the scale of cosmic neutrino fluxes. The problem has been to develop a robust and affordable technology to build the kilometer-scale neutrino detectors required to do the science. The AMANDA telescope using clear deep Antarctic ice as a Cherenkov detector of muons and showers initiated by neutrinos of all 3 flavors, has met this challenge. We review the results obtained with more than 5000 well-reconstructed neutrinos in the 50 GeV~500 TeV energy range collected during its first 4 years of operation. More importantly, we will show that AMANDA represents a proof of concept for the ultimate kilometer-scale neutrino observatory, IceCube, now under construction .
Student participation with Watkins Physics Award recipient:
Prof. Francis Halzen discusses with Wichita State University Physics majors during a private Pizza lunch after his public talk.