Prof. Wang Yifang, director of China's Institute of High Energy Physics and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Prof. Kam-Biu Luk, a physicist from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, won the Future Science Prize in physical sciences for their experimental discovery of a new type of neutrino oscillation. The award ceremony was held in Beijing on Nov. 17.
In 2012, as part of the ongoing Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, Wang and Luk led a team of researchers to discover a new type of neutrino oscillation. For the first time, the oscillation amplitude sin22θ13 was measured accurately, thus opening the door to a new physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, with particular relevance for new CP violations that could be the key to understanding matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. The oscillation discovery is expected to have a profound impact on the development of particle physics.
Prof. Wang pledged to use his award money – $500,000 – to establish a fund to promote development of the Circular Electron Positron Collider, a “big science” research facility that will further basic particle research. The high-energy particle accelerator project was proposed by Chinese physicists in 2012. Prof. Wang is the main promoter of the project.
"The neutrino research and particle physics research I am engaged in is 'useless' science. We need pure curiosity to make greater contributions to pure science," said Prof. Wang in his award speech. He emphasized the importance of having a large science facility of “great scientific significance,” such as the proposed circular collider, for undertaking basic neutrino research.
The Future Science Prize, inaugurated in 2016, is China’s first nongovernmental prize established by scientists and entrepreneurs. It recognizes achievements in the three fields of life science, physical science, and mathematics and computer science with a $1 million prize. The Future Science Prize focuses on original basic scientific research and honors scientists who make outstanding contributions to scientific development in Greater China. In order to maintain the integrity of the prize, nominations are solicited by invitation from qualified scientific experts and outstanding scientists comprise the awards committee.
Prof. Shao Feng from China's National Institute of Biological Sciences won the Future Science Prize in life sciences, and Prof. Wang Xiaoyun from Tsinghua University won the Future Science Prize in mathematics and computer science.
Wang Yifang delivers a speech on the award ceremony (Image by Future Science Prize)