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Analytical Chemistry

2013 Nobel Prize In Physics

Awards: Two European researchers recognized for their contributions to particle physics

by Mitch Jacoby
October 10, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 41

Credit: Graham Clark/University of Edinburgh
Credit: Graham Clark/University of Edinburgh

For their development of a theoretical mechanism that describes the origin of mass in subatomic particles, François Englert, an emeritus professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), in Belgium, and Peter W. Higgs, an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh, have been honored with the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Credit: Université Libre de Bruxelles
Credit: Université Libre de Bruxelles

Working independently, Englert and Higgs and their coworkers proposed their seminal theory in 1964. Confirmation of the theory rested upon discovery of the so-called Higgs boson, an elusive subatomic particle that was finally detected in 2012 by two instruments at the Large Hadron Collider, the high-energy proton collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), located near Geneva.

The Higgs particle was long described as the missing piece of the Standard Model of particle physics. The model describes the fundamental forces of nature and the basis of interactions between subatomic particles. The mass theory developed by Englert, Higgs, and the late Robert Brout, also of ULB, explains mathematically the way subatomic particles acquire mass through their interactions with a pervasive but invisible force field.

In July 2012, researchers announced that measurements made in their proton-proton collision experiments confirm that the Higgs boson had been detected. Each of the experiments involved several thousand physicists from around the world who helped build and operate the instruments and analyze the massive data sets.

“I’m very, very happy to have this recognition,” Englert said by phone at the press conference announcing the 2013 physics prize. In a statement released by the University of Edinburgh after the conference, Higgs remarked, “I am overwhelmed to receive this award.” Englert and Higgs will share the $1.2 million prize money.

Confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson “is extremely significant because it completes the verification of the Standard Model,” says Jonathan D. Lewis, a staff scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Without the Higgs boson, all particles would be massless, Lewis explains. Nonetheless, physicists’ work isn’t finished. Fundamental questions regarding dark matter, dark energy, and antimatter remain unanswered, he says.

Credit: CERN
Illustration shows data from decay of the Higgs boson into other particles after an 8-TeV mass energy collision event at CERN in 2012.


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shiv (October 14, 2013 11:49 AM)
yes i agree that a physicits' work is yet not complete. what we found at cern need further verification again more profoundly .
sriharan (October 15, 2013 1:43 PM)
i really like their work.
Urmi (October 17, 2013 8:52 AM)
Hi Mitch Jacoby,

If you really know about Higgs boson particle then you should also know Boson named from a Late Indian Scientist Satyendranath Bose. Since he is died he couldn't get this Nobel Prize. I am wondering how could you people forget to acknowledge him. In your report you even didn't bother to mention that.
E. E. Escultura (November 29, 2013 6:10 PM)
No. The Higgs boson is not the fundamental building block of matter. The superstring is and it was discovered in 1997. For a definitive analysis of both subjects view the article, The Logic and Fundamental Concepts of the Grand Unified Theory, in the special issue on Gravitation, Astrophysics and Cosmology, of the open access Journal of Modern Physics:

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