The Yomiuri ShimbunThe science ministry is planning to build a next-generation elementary particle detector, the Hyper-Kamiokande, in Hida, Gifu Prefecture, sources said.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to request funding for the project in its budget for next fiscal year.
The facility would be the successor to the Kamiokande and Super-Kamiokande facilities, both of which produced scientific achievements that resulted in Nobel Prizes.
The new observatory could help win a third Nobel by unraveling more of the mysteries surrounding the history of the evolution of the universe.
The facility would be constructed underground in the mountains of Hida by the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Cosmic Ray Research.
It would have a huge water tank 60 meters high and 74 meters in diameter, equipped with numerous ultra high sensitivity photo sensors designed to capture the faint light emitted when neutrinos, a type of elementary particle, collide with the water in the tank, and other events.
The goal is to have the facility fully operational in the late 2020s.
Research at the facility would focus on the differences between neutrinos and antineutrinos, which have opposing characteristics.
Another goal is to be the first to detect the phenomenon known as “proton decay,” which is what happens when the protons that make up an atomic nucleus break down. Achieving either of these would help unlock the origins of the universe and contribute to the advancement of modern physics.
Capturing these rare phenomena would require about 90 times the amount of water in Kamiokande and about five times that in Super-Kamiokande.
The ministry allotted ¥50 million to studying the project’s significance and other aspects in this fiscal year’s budget. Construction and other costs for the project are estimated at about ¥65 billion.
The government and the University of Tokyo are coordinating with other nations that plan to participate in cost-sharing.
The government feels the project would be worth the cost. Masatoshi Koshiba, a distinguished university professor at the University of Tokyo, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002 based on observations in the field of neutrino research performed at Kamiokande, and Institute for Cosmic Ray Research Director Takaaki Kajita received the 2015 physics prize for work done at Super Kamiokande. Speech