Physicist Arthur McDonald went from the darkness of a subterranean mine to the limelight of Nobel Prize glory and this week Parliamentarians celebrated his accomplishments. He was recently received by the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons.
It was Speaker of the Senate George Furey’s first meeting with the scientist.
“On behalf of the Senate of Canada and the Canadian public, I would like to congratulate Dr. McDonald on his lifetime of accomplishments and his revolutionary contribution to science and research in Canada,” Speaker Furey said.
Dr. McDonald’s path to Parliament Hill began in a Sudbury nickel mine.
Buried in a lab two kilometers beneath the surface of the earth, he and his team sought to improve their understanding of neutrinos — subatomic particles emitted by the sun that harmlessly flood the earth in astronomically high quantities.
Neutrinos are the most common particles in the universe. Still, they are extremely difficult to study. Dr. McDonald’s team constructed a giant neutrino detector — a huge sphere containing heavy water built underground to avoid interference from other sources — hoping for a catch.
“You’re sitting there observing a burst of light represented on your display screen (and) you have the ability to observe particles that come directly from the core of the sun,” Dr. McDonald told the Ottawa Citizen after learning he’d split the Nobel Prize in Physics with a Japanese neutrino physicist in October 2015.
Speaker Furey reiterated his praise for the scientist.
“Canada is honoured and fortunate to have you as member of our scientific community,” the Speaker said.