Andrew T. Mastbaum, Ph.D.

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87th Arthur H. Compton Lecture Series, Spring 2018

The biannual Arthur H. Compton Lecture Series aims to bring the exciting research in the University of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute to the general public and university community. Since 1976, these 8-10 week lecture series have covered a broad array of topics, without requiring any formal background in science or mathematics.

The Physics of Neutrinos: Progress and Puzzles

Neutrinos are the tiniest, and perhaps the most mysterious, of the fundamental building blocks of matter.

Neutrinos are the tiniest and most abundant massive particles in the universe. However, these fundamental building blocks of matter are also among the most mysterious. These wily subatomic particles have led to one surprise after another since their first proposal in 1930, and today a variety of fascinating experiments are underway to pin down their properties. Despite these uncertainties, we know enough to use neutrinos as tools: their weak interactions with other matter make them a unique probe of interactions occurring deep within stars, supernovae, or nuclear reactors. Furthermore, neutrinos may hold the answers to very deep questions, perhaps addressing the very existence of our matter-filled universe.

In this lecture series, we will explore what we know and don’t know about neutrinos, highlighting key discoveries and exploring the ongoing experimental efforts. We will cover the quantum nature of neutrinos and the fundamentals of the detectors we use to study them — with a focus on the exciting developments and compelling open questions of today.


  • 1. Little, Neutral, Mysterious: An Introduction to Neutrino Physics
    March 31, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 2. Lost and Found: Neutrinos From the Sun
    April 7, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 3. Neutrinos From the Beyond the Solar System: Supernova Neutrinos
    April 14, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 4. Neutrinos in Cosmology (Guest Lecture: Dr. Marco Raveri, KICP)
    April 21, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 5. Gone Fission: Neutrinos at Nuclear Reactors
    April 28, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 6. The Small Things: Neutrino Mass and Double-Beta Decay
    May 5, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 7. How Many Neutrinos? Short-Baseline Oscillations
    May 12, 2018
    slides, handout
  • 8. Neutrinos, the Universe, and CP Violation
    May 19, 2018
    slides, handout
  • No Lecture
    May 28, 2018
  • 9. Where We Are/Where We're Going: Open Questions and Future Prospects
    June 6, 2018
    slides, handout

Further Reading