Takaaki Kajita


Interview, December 2015

Interview with the 2015 Nobel Laureate in Physics Takaaki Kajita on 6 December 2015, during the Nobel Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Takaaki Kajita discusses what brought him to science; an inspiring teacher (1:01); his Nobel Prize-awarded work (1:26); motivation (2:07); Eureka moments (2:50); a tough challenge in his work (3:14); what advice he would give himself at 20 years (5:14); advice for students (6:03) and exciting moments in his research (6:19).

Read the interview

Nobel Minds 2015

The 2015 Nobel Laureates met at the Grünewald Hall in the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm on 11 December 2015 for the traditional round-table discussion and TV program ‘Nobel Minds’. The Nobel Laureates discussed if prizes inspire unnecessary competition, if it’s possible to fight inequality; the discoveries for which they’ve been honored and how these can be applied in a practical way, and what motivates them in their work. The discussion was hosted by Zeinab Badawi of the BBC.

Interview, October 2015

“Kind of unbelievable!”

Telephone interview with Takaaki Kajita immediately following the announcement of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, 6 October 2015. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media.

Interview transcript

[Takaaki Kajita] Hello.

[Adam Smith] Oh hello, my name is Adam Smith, I’m calling from Nobelprize.org, the official website of the Nobel Prize. Congratulations on the award of this year’s Nobel Prize.

[TK] Thank you very much.

[AS] How did you hear the news?

[TK] Well, I just, well actually, when I received the phone call I was checking my e-mails.

[AS] In your office? Right. And what was your first reaction?

[TK] Well, that was really a surprise to me.

[AS] I imagine it is still sinking in.

[TK] Yes, yes, still kind of unbelievable.

[AS] You sound as if you are alone, are there not people around you yet?

[TK] Well actually I’m in a small room so no one around.

[AS] I’m sure that very soon you will be surrounded by people.

[TK] {Laughs] Thank you.

[AS] You’ve devoted your research career to the study of neutrinos and I just wanted to ask you what is it that makes neutrinos so fascinating for you?

[TK] Yeah, actually I started my career in the so-called Kamiokande experiment. That was a proton decay experiment, but after finishing my thesis I wanted to improve my study on proton decay and I need to study atmospheric neutrinos because it is a background for proton decay, and I noticed that there is something strange happening there. So that is the beginning of my research on neutrinos.

[AS] And what is the significance of your finding that neutrinos have mass?

[TK] Well I think the significance is, this is clearly the physics that is beyond the standard model of particle physics.

[AS] Yes, it’s extending the standard model. And perhaps it explains some of this missing mass in the universe.

[TK] Well, yes, the observed mass by neutrinos in this experiment could be a little bit too small to explain the majority of the masses in the universe.

[AS] Aha, but maybe explains a little bit?

[TK] Yes, yes.

[AS] One of the nice things about your work is that you get to play with such amazing equipment, these collectors deep underground. It must be exciting, wonderful.

[TK] Well, yes, yes, actually as an experimentalist I was always excited in working in super Kamiokande and also Kamiokande experiments.

[AS] Amazing, amazing pieces of equipment. So what do you think is going to happen to you now? In the next few minutes and hours?

[TK] No idea. [Laughs]

[AS] [Laughs] Have you ever dreamed of this moment before?

[TK] Well, of course, well, as really a dream, maybe years, but not serious dreaming so far.

[AS] Well, it will be exciting to hear how it goes for you. We very much look forward to welcoming you to Stockholm in December when you come to receive your Nobel Prize.

[TK] Yes, thank you very much.

[AS] Thank you. Well, many congratulations.

[TK] Thank you very much.

[AS] I think you should probably enjoy this quiet time because I imagine it’s the last quiet time you’re going to get for a very long time.

[TK] Hmm, OK.

[AS] OK, thank you very much for speaking to me.

[TK] Thank you very much. Goodbye.

[AS] Bye bye.

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To cite this section
MLA style: Takaaki Kajita – Interview. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 2 Oct 2023. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2015/kajita/interview/>

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