Raymond Davis, Jr., Solar Neutrinos,
and the Solar Neutrino Problem

Resources with Additional Information

Raymond Davis, Jr.
Photo Courtesy of Brookhaven
National Laboratory (BNL)

Raymond Davis, Jr., who conducted research in the Chemistry Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) from 1948 through 1984, was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, in particular for the detection of cosmic neutrinos." Dr. Davis is also a recipient of the 2003 Fermi Award. He was the first scientist to detect solar neutrinos, ghostlike particles produced in the nuclear reactions that power the sun.

"Neutrinos are fascinating particles, so tiny and fast that they can pass straight through everything, even the earth itself, without even slowing down," said Davis. "When I began my work, I was intrigued by the idea of learning something new. The interesting thing about doing new experiments is that you never know what the answer is going to be!"

Raymond Davis, Jr.
Drawing Courtesy of BNL

In research that spanned from 1967–1985, Davis consistently found only one-third of the neutrinos that standard theories predicted. His results threw the field of astrophysics into an uproar, and, for nearly three decades, physicists tried to resolve the so-called "solar neutrino puzzle." Experiments in the 1990s using different detectors around the world eventually confirmed the solar neutrino discrepancy.

While at Brookhaven, Ray Davis conducted research and experiments in solar neutrinos at Homestake Gold Mine in South Dakota. This research was funded by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

Dr. Davis became a research professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 where he continues experiments at Homestake. He earned a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University.

– Edited excerpts from Raymond Davis, Jr. biographical sketch and BNL News Release

Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Raymond Davis and solar neutrinos is available in full-text DOE reports and on the Web.


Solar Neutrinos, DOE Technical Report, December 1964

Solar Neutrinos. II. Experimental; DOE Technical Report, March 16, 1964

Search for Neutrinos from the Sun; DOE Technical Report, May 20, 1968

Report on the Brookhaven Solar Neutrino Experiment, DOE Technical Report, September 1976

Solar Neutrino Problem, DOE Technical Report, April 1978

Variations in the Solar Neutrino Flux, DOE Technical Report, August 1987


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