Frederick Reines

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For the experimental discovery of the free neutrino and the elucidation of its properties and interactions and the testing of fundamental conservation laws of physics.

For the experimental discovery of the free neutrino and the elucidation of its properties and interactions and the testing of fundamental conservation laws of physics.

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Birth
March 16, 1918
Age Awarded
65
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Discovered Free Neutrino
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
Stephens Institute of Technology
New York University
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
University of California, Irvine
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
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Growing up, Frederick Reines loved building things. As a Boy Scout, he would build crystal radios. So it is only fitting, his interest in science would lead him to detect one of the building blocks of the universe -- the neutrino.

Since the 1930s, physicists had predicted the existence of neutrinos -- abundant subatomic particles with almost no mass that pass through matter with hardly any interactions. But neutrinos’ ghostly nature had prevented physicists from actually observing them.

In the midst of his work studying atomic and hydrogen bomb tests at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Reines decided to observe a neutrino. Reines and his partner, Clyde Cowan, were finally able to detect them in 1956 using a nuclear reactor.

Reines’ observation of neutrinos opened up further research in particle physics. Scientists continue to study neutrinos today in hopes of gaining a better understand of the universe and why it is made up of matter and not antimatter.

By Jacob Kerr

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