COMET is an experiment that is currently under construction at J-PARC, which will make an enormous number (roughly a million × million × million) of “muonic-atoms”—atoms with a muon orbiting their nuclei, rather than just electrons—and then we will watch what happens.
Within COMET, UK physicists have been leading the Physics and Software, Proton Targetry, Trigger and Data Acquisition and Muon Monitor efforts, although as a small (for particle physics) collaboration, it is really an all-hands-on-deck effort so everyone tends to help out in many different aspects of the experiment.
The COMET Collaboration consists of over a hundred physicists from over 30 universities and laboratories from 12 different countries, and we expect to start taking experimental data very soon.
I currently serve the COMET Collaboration as Chair of the Collaboration Board and Executive Board member.
Neutrinos are similar to electrons and muons, except that they have no electric charge. This makes the experiments that study them very different indeed. For example, the KamLAND experiment looks for antineutrinos coming from nuclear power reactors a hundred miles away, while T2K, one of the main projects here at Imperial, sends neutrinos travelling for almost two hundred miles to be observed in a big tank of water, Super-Kamiokande, a highly-successful experiment in its own right that our group is now a part of.
All of these experiments saw neutrinos do things that no one knew would happen at the time that we turned the experiments on—and it is this sense of discovery that makes it so exciting to be working in particle physics. We are also currently performing R&D work for the next generation of experiment, a much more sensitive version of T2K that will be called Hyper-Kamiokande.
I am interested in the statisitical issues that are related to understanding the data that our experiments provide, and am helping organise PhyStat-ν, a series of workshops on the statistical issues that are involved in neutrino physics.
As a group, we are delighted that Prof Takaaki Kajita, whom we work with on T2K, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.
In November 2015, I was awarded the 2016 Fundamental Physics Breakthrough Prize together with colleagues on the T2K and KamLAND experiments.
I am Principal Investigator for Imperial College on the T2K Experiment.