Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990
M.S., University of Michigan, 1985
B.S., University of Michigan, 1982
Professor Casper's research is focused on the most fundamental known constituents and forces of nature. The goal of elementary particle physics is to unify, if possible, the laws of nature into a single consistent, economical description.
One area of excitement concerns neutrinos - electrically neutral versions of the more familiar electron, which are able to pass through enormous amounts of matter without interacting. With the Super-Kamiokande experiment in Japan, Professor Casper and his colleagues have shown that these ghostly particles, long-believed to be perfectly massless, not only carry mass but change their very character ("oscillate") as they whiz through space. In a related experiment called K2K, we have shot a man-made beam of neutrinos through the earth, to a detector 250 km away, further confirming the original discovery. A second-generation experiment, T2K, will measure the mixing between neutrinos, and their masses, more precisely, and hopefully discover a new and predicted mode of oscillation. By understanding what makes neutrinos oscillate, we hope to uncover new evidence for the "theory of everything", and may explain why the universe consists almost entirely of matter, rather than anti-matter.
Super-Kamiokande also allows us to look for the extremely rare (and so far undetected) process of proton decay. Observation of proton decay will not only confirm our suspicion that the three sub-atomic forces are really distant cousins, but also reveal the theory that unites them.