Another Ontarian Contribution to Humankind
The winners of the 2015 Nobel Prizes were announced this week. Among them was Dr. Arthur McDonald, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University. McDonald was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery relating to neutrinos.
“Who doesn’t gain some satisfaction seeing U of T rank among the best schools in the world?”
Basically (I’ve never used that term more sincerely), neutrinos are particles numbering in the billions that constantly fly around and through us at high speeds. McDonald’s research led to the discovery that neutrinos do, in fact, have mass, and that they change ‘identities’ while moving. In the long run, his discovery will help pave the way for future researchers focusing on neutrinos and the matter of the universe. Phew.
The award will be shared with Takaaki Kajita, a Japanese scientist and colleague of McDonald’s whose own research helped show similar results.
In case you aren’t familiar: the Nobel Prize is an internationally coveted award. The Nobel Foundation annually honours those responsible for a “benefit to mankind” in a variety of fields including physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economic sciences.
While the University of Toronto’s student body doesn’t have the greatest school spirit — am I wrong? — there is no doubt some notion of pride when comparing our school to others in the province. This friendly rivalry between Ontario universities is most evident in sports, but is also true academically. Who doesn’t gain some satisfaction seeing U of T rank among the best schools in the world?
Now, before anyone gets jealous of Queen’s for McDonald’s Nobel it’s worth remembering that there have been many University of Toronto faculty and alumni who have been awarded the prize. In fact, two of the first Canadians to ever receive the award were Sir Frederick Banting and Professor J.J.R. Macleod, for their contributions in making insulin viable in the treatment of diabetes. This list also includes Professor John Charles Polanyi who won the chemistry prize in 1986; Professor Oliver Smithies for medicine in 2007; and U of T alumnus and former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson who won the peace award in 1957. Not bad.
But even if U of T didn’t have a history of award-winners, it would still be best to put aside this fierce, fierce rivalry and congratulate both Dr. McDonald on his outstanding achievement as well as Queen’s University for supporting his sort of groundbreaking work. We should be glad that this internationally celebrated honour is once again finding its way to Ontario. After all, it isn’t given out for just anything.
Ontarian or not: the accomplishments of deserving recipients should be celebrated without barriers, biases, or rivalries. Although sure, it is nice when that award finds its way into a University of Toronto trophy case.
McDonald and his fellow winners will have to wait until December 10th to don their silverware, after the official award ceremony, held in Stockholm.