From FNAL: “50 years of discoveries and innovations at Fermilab: tau neutrino”

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FNAL Art Image by Angela Gonzales

April 27, 2017
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This year Fermilab celebrates a half-century of groundbreaking accomplishments. In recognition of the lab’s 50th birthday, we will post (in no particular order) a different innovation or discovery from Fermilab’s history every day between April 27 and June 15, the date in 1967 that the lab’s employees first came to work.

The list covers important particle physics measurements, advances in accelerator science, astrophysics discoveries, theoretical physics papers, game-changing computing developments and more. While the list of 50 showcases only a small fraction of the lab’s impressive resume, it nevertheless captures the breadth of the lab’s work over the decades, and it reminds us of the remarkable feats of ingenuity, engineering and technology we are capable of when we work together to do great science.

1. Fermilab DONUT experiment discovers tau neutrino

On July 21, 2000, Fermilab announced the first direct evidence for a particle called the tau neutrino, the third kind of neutrino known to particle physicists. It had been hypothesized but never directly observed until the 2000 discovery, which was made by the DONUT (Direct Observation of the Nu Tau) experiment at Fermilab. The other two types, the electron neutrino and the muon neutrino, had been discovered in 1956 and 1962, respectively.

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Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

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Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.