Date of activity: October 6, 2015
The press conference for Professor Takaaki Kajita, Director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of neutrino oscillations, was held at the University of Tokyo’s Sanjo Conference Hall on October 6th, 2015. The event was attended by over 130 members of the press, and excitement filled the air as they celebrated the second Japanese Nobel Prize winner this year.
The conference was scheduled to begin at 8:45 PM, but started earlier as Professor Kajita received a congratulatory phone call from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Professor Kajita’s first statement was “I am incredibly honored. My mind is blank right now, and I don’t know what to say.” Soon after, he referred to the achievements of his mentor, the late UTokyo Honorary Professor Emeritus Yoji Totsuka. Then, when asked who else he would like to thank for helping him win the Prize, he jokingly and proudly said: “I want to thank the neutrinos and cosmic rays!”
While answering the various questions posed by members of the media, Professor Kajita spoke of his feelings of gratitude at being able to continue with his research, and the joy he felt when his research in pure science was so highly regarded even within the innovation-focused science that society tends to demand in recent years. He then joked that his hobbies are sleeping in on holidays and enjoying the occasional evening drink. Professor Kajita also spoke of one of the most important incidents that happened in his research life. He said it was the time when he had just started working as a research assistant at the International Center for Elementary Particle Physics, and a program for analyzing neutrinos that he had improved upon came out with different results than what he had expected. Research into neutrinos began in earnest at that point, which he said made it both a starting point as well as a turning point for the study of neutrinos. He then thanked the University of Tokyo for making this kind of research possible.
Towards the end of the press conference, University of Tokyo President Makoto Gonokami stated: “We at the University of Tokyo are overjoyed. Professor Kajita’s research is not only an asset to the University of Tokyo, but also an asset to all of Japan. We would like to continue supporting Professor Kajita and his research.” Professor Kajita was then presented with a bouquet of flowers as the press conference ended.
For a brief overview of Professor Kajita's academic and professional background, an article describing his research, and a video of the press conference, please refer to the following page: UTokyo Professor Awarded Nobel Prize
Also, you can find President Gonokami's congratulatory message to Professor Kajita here.