Innovator: Takaaki Kajita

Takaaki Kajita
Takaaki Kajita Courtesy of Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, The University of Tokyo

After proving neutrinos have mass, Takaaki Kajita, a physicist with the Super-Kamiokande observatory in Japan, was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2015. “I wanted evidence that the oscillations of neutrinos and those of anti-neutrinos are different. This could be the first step toward the understanding of the emergence of matter in the universe,” he says.

Now, Kajita and his colleagues, as well as other teams in the U.S. and Europe, are working to complete construction on a gravitational wave interferometer, which could help uncover the origins of heavy metals like iron and gold. “Gravitational waves are a new way to observe the universe,” says Kajita, who joined the Kamioka Gravitational Wave Detector (KAGRA) project in 2009. “Black holes and neutron stars can be studied by observing these waves. It was clear they are very important.”

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We're saluting innovators who have developed creative solutions to the problems that face our world—pollution, economic disparity, war, discrimination and more. Say hello to the creative class of 2019.