Kajita and McDonald claim the physics prize for their discovery of Neutrino oscillations, "which shows that neutrinos have mass." The committee said the finding "can prove crucial to our view of the universe."
Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald brought about a "metamorphosis in the particle world," as the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm put it on Tuesday.
The pair, working in their native countries Japan and Canada respectively, won the coveted award for their discovery that neutrinos, often thought of as "nature’s most elusive particles," have mass, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday.
The duo’s research discovered a new phenomenon – neutrino oscillations – something that was seen as ground-breaking for particle physics.
Neutrinos are miniscule particles created in nuclear reactions, such as in the sun and the stars, or in nuclear power plants. The laureates were able to show that the three existing different kinds of neutrinos were able to alternate from one kind to another, dispelling the long-held view they were massless.
"The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe," the Academy said in a statement.
Following the announcement, Arthur B. McDonald said the joint discovery helps explain "how the universe has evolved."
Twin strike against parasitic disease
On Monday, the Nobel Foundation awarded a trio of scientists the prize in the category of medicine. William C. Campbell, Satoshi Omura and Youyou Tu were jointly awarded the honor for creating treatments for devastating parasitic diseases that infect hundreds of the world’s poor – mostly in Africa.
On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry will be awarded, then literature on Thursday. The main event, the Nobel Peace Prize, will be awarded on Friday in Oslo, when the successor to Malala Yousafzai as the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be named. Finally, next Monday, the Nobel economic laureate will top off this year's set.
The prizes in all categories carry a purse of 8 million kroner ($960,000 dollars, 855,000 euros).
The awards will be conferred on December 10, the 119th anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.