Nobel Prize for scientists

CERN – Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize

in physics for their work on the theory of the

Higgs boson.

Peter Higgs, from Britain, and Francois Englert from

Belgium, shared the prize.

In the 1960s they were among several physicists who

proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic

building blocks of the universe have mass.

The mechanism predicts a particle – the Higgs boson

– which was finally discovered in 2012 at the Large

Hadron Collider at Cern in Switzerland.

“This year’s prize is about something small that

makes all the difference,” said Staffan Normark,

permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy

of Sciences.

Professor Higgs is renowned for shying away from

the limelight, and he could not be located for interview

in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

“He’s gone on holiday without a phone to avoid the

media storm,” his Edinburgh University physics colleague

Alan Walker told British media, adding that Higgs had

also been unwell.

But the university released a prepared statement

from Higgs, 84, who is an emeritus professor of

theoretical physics:

“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank

the Royal Swedish Academy,” he said.

Francois Englert, 80, said he was “very happy” to win

the award, speaking at the ceremony via phone link.

“At first I thought I didn’t have it [the prize] because

I didn’t see the announcement,” he told the committee,

after their news conference was delayed by more than

an hour.

Higgs was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, but it was

in Edinburgh in 1964 that he had his big idea –

an explanation of why the matter in the universe has

substance, or mass.

His theory involved a missing particle in the Standard

Model of physics, which has come to be known as the

Higgs boson.

Within weeks, Francois Englert independently

published his own, similar theory, alongside his now

deceased colleague Robert Brout.

Three other physicists – Gerald Guralnik, Tom

Kibble and Carl Hagen – also made key contributions

to the theory, and spoke at the announcement of the

discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. (BBC)

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