Raimond Davis

Raimond Davis

American chemist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002.
Date of Birth: 14.10.1914
Country: USA

Biography of Raymond Davis

Raymond Davis was an American chemist and the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the field of neutrino astronomy. He was born into a family of photographers, with his father, Raymond Davis Sr., working at the National Bureau of Standards as the head of the photography department. Despite not completing his final years of school, Davis developed a passion for experiments and constructing equipment under the influence of his father.

Raimond Davis

After graduating from the University of Maryland in 1938 with a degree in chemistry, Davis worked at Dow Chemical in Midland for a year before returning to the University of Maryland. In 1942, he defended his dissertation in physical chemistry at Yale University and then joined the army as a reservist. During his time in the army, Davis observed experiments with chemical weapons in Utah. After being discharged from the army in 1945, he worked at Monsanto Chemical in Ohio, focusing on radiochemical methods.

In the spring of 1948, Davis began working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), which was established to develop civil applications of atomic energy. It was there that he met his wife, Anna Torri, who worked in the biology department at BNL. They got married in 1948 and went on to have five children together. In 1984, Davis left BNL and became a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Maryland.

At BNL, Davis was given the freedom to choose his research area, and he decided to focus on neutrino physics. At that time, neutrinos only existed as theoretical postulates, and there were no experimental works on the subject. Davis built a tank next to a research reactor at BNL and later a larger tank at the Savannah River Site in 1955, both aimed at detecting neutrinos using the reaction 37Cl + ν → 37Ar + e. However, both experiments yielded negative results. It was later discovered that these experiments disproved the hypothesis, accepted at the time, that neutrinos and antineutrinos were identical. The reason for the lack of results was that reactors produce neutrinos, while Davis' experimental setup was sensitive to antineutrinos.

It is worth noting that Davis achieved 20 times higher sensitivity in his experiments compared to Fred Reines' 1956 neutrino detection experiments, for which Reines received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1995. After completing the experiments at the Savannah River Site, Davis started working on the solar neutrino problem. He built a facility in the Homestake Mine near Lead, South Dakota, at a depth of 1400 meters, where he placed a tank containing 378 cubic meters of perchlorethylene. The initial measurements did not yield any results, but Davis continued to refine the technique until he successfully detected solar neutrinos in 1970. The measured neutrino flux was approximately three times lower than predicted by John Bahcall.

Throughout his life, Davis was a lone fighter who laid the foundations of modern neutrino physics through his work. He convinced the scientific community of the existence of events occurring at a frequency of several times per month by demonstrating the reliability of his measurement methods. Only after his experiments, scientists became confident in the feasibility of such experiments and began developing installations like SNO, Gallex, and Super-Kamiokande, opening the doors to a "new" area of physics. In recognition of his achievements, Davis was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002, jointly with Masatoshi Koshiba. At the time, Davis was already 88 years old, becoming the oldest person to ever receive the Nobel Prize.