Higgs boson researchers win prize
STOCKHOLM, Sweden—It took nearly 50 years but Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics today for figuring out how the universe’s most basic building blocks acquire mass and form the world we know today.
The two men developed their ideas independently of each other in the 1960s and they seemed to underpin the whole Standard Model of physics, which offered a framework for how the universe works.
To track down the elusive subatomic unit (sometimes referred to by laymen as the “God particle”), thousands of scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, had to build the world’s biggest atom smasher.
The $10-billion Large Hadron Collider operates in a 27-km tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border.
“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy,” the 84-year-old Higgs said in a statement released by the University of Edinburgh, where he is a professor emeritus.
“I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.”
Englert, 80, thanked all those who helped him in his research, and said he could not have imagined getting a Nobel Prize when he started the work 50 years ago.
“You don’t work thinking to get the Nobel Prize. That’s not how you work,” stressed Englert, a professor emeritus at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.
“[Still] we had the impression that we were doing something that was important; that would later on be used by other researchers,” he added.
For once, the Nobel physics judges picked a prize that had been widely anticipated; their choices normally are hard to predict.
However, the announcement was delayed by an hour, which is highly unusual.
The academy said on Twitter it was “still in session” when it was supposed to make its announcement, but didn’t explain the reason for the delay.
It could be a while before the world finds out why because the academy’s deliberations are kept secret for 50 years.