Higgs Boson Predictors Awarded the 2013 Nobel Physics Prize

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Higgs Boson Predictors Awarded the 2013 Nobel Physics Prize

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Francois Englert, left, and Peter Higgs

NOBEL WINNERS: Francois Englert, left, and Peter Higgs shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics for their prediction of the Higgs boson particle.
Image: Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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Peter Higgs and Francois Englert waited 48 a long time for their idea to be confirmed by experiment, and then a 12 months a lot more for the greatest scientific seal of acceptance: the Nobel Prize.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced this morning that this year’s physics award will go to the two researchers, who in 1964 predicted the existence of a small, essential particle called the Higgs boson lengthy ahead of the technologies to detect it existed. The theorists’ foresight paid off on July 4, 2012, when researchers at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Big Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, announced they’d identified a particle matching the Higgs’ description. The boson is at the coronary heart of physicists’ understanding of the universe, accountable for the mass in the atoms that make up galaxies, planets and men and women.

Higgs and Englert have been the odds-on favorites to get the prize this 12 months. In reality, media speculation was so fervent that Peter Higgs reportedly went on getaway with no his cellphone to stay away from the furor. “Rumor has it that he has long gone into hiding for the relaxation of the 7 days,” Nobel committee member Olga Botner of Uppsala University in Sweden explained during a televised interview subsequent the announcement. “Since this prize was so predicted, he understood in possibly case, if he gets it there would be a press storm, if he doesn’t get it there would still be a press storm.”

While the Nobel committee resorted to telling Higgs of his award through email, it reached Englert, 80, by phone. “You might imagine that this is not very disagreeable, of system,” the Belgian scientist said in the course of the Nobel announcement celebration. “I’m extremely satisfied to have that recognition.” Englert, a professor emeritus at Université Libre de Bruxelles, predicted the existence of the Higgs boson with his colleague Robert Brout, who died in 2011 (the Nobel is not awarded posthumously). Independently, Peter Higgs, a British scientist who’s now professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, arrived at the identical prediction in the very same 12 months.

According to the principle, particles get their mass by interacting with the so-named Higgs field, which is thought to pervade place, just as swimmers get wet by relocating through a pool. The actual physical manifestation of the field, the Higgs boson, is what was finally detected. The discovery has established the physics group clamoring for Nobel recognition of Higgs and Englert. “I am thrilled to see this Prize awarded,” states Don Lincoln of Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., who worked on the LHC’s CMS experiment, one of two detectors that located proof for the particle. “It was a extended journey, however the Swedish Academy of Sciences did the right factor by waiting for the prediction to be verified by scientists at the CERN laboratory. Personally, I am delighted to have performed a tiny part in the discovery.”

The Nobel prize is the pinnacle of scientific accolades. By custom, the physics prize is awarded to a optimum of a few people for each 12 months—a rule that prohibits the committee from recognizing other theorists’ contributions to the Higgs boson prediction, such as Gerald Guralnik, Tom Kibble and Carl Hagen, who collaborated at Imperial School London in 1964 on an impartial prediction of a Higgs-like system for granting particles their mass. “It’s a disgrace that the policies of the Swedish Academy of Sciences (and the Nobel will) really do not let for far more individuals to be provided, as there are numerous amazing contributors,” Lincoln says.

Scientific American Content material: Information

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