Cosmological hypotheses and oracular dreams of grandly unifying all the forces of nature foretold: neutrinos might weigh a tiny bit, those elusive particles might blow up stars, and the protons (and your ashes) would transform into light in 1029 years. Indeed, that man can live to 100, without the radioactivity in his bones killing him, proves that nucleons survive for at least 1026 years…far longer than the big-bang light in the sky which dates our universe to a mere 1010 years.
Testing the unification theories demanded new technologies to search for ultra-rare interactions. The pioneering experiment would need fast, isochronous, single photoelectron light sensors; a N2 calibration laser; reverse osmosis water; and fast, inexpensive waveform digitizers…ushering in an era of massive, totally-active, Cherenkov ring-imaging calorimeters. Successive detectors morphed the target medium of the initial detector (ultrapure water) into heavy water, seawater, solid water, and even clear and scintillating oil. The two neutrino sources for the seminal experiment -- the atmosphere and Supernova 1987a -- evolved to include near and far accelerators, our sun, and nuclear reactors.
I will relate the demise of the simplest unifying theory while tracing the tortuous path from a deficit of atmospheric neutrinos to a definitive observation of neutrino oscillation…now enabling ambitious dreams of tomorrow: untangling the mystery of CP violation and hypothesizing the lepto-genesis of the cosmos.
This lecture is dedicated to the memory of physicist Val Fitch, Princeton inventor of an early water Cherenkov counter and unraveler of CP invariance.
Recording of Professor Sulak's Talk: http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/t5ijc