Nobel Prize Higgs Boson Scientists
October 8, 2013

Nobel Prize In Physics Goes To Fathers Of The ‘God Particle’

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Two scientists behind the theoretical model describing the Higgs boson were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday.

Many in the scientific community saw the award as recognition of the actual discovery of the so-called ‘God particle’ last year at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The prize is more often awarded to those on the theoretical side of a major discovery, not the experimental side.

"We're extremely happy with that," Joe Incandela, a CERN physicist, told CNN. "I'm elated. We feel that we've been recognized."

The prize was awarded to the Belgian François Englert, Université Libre de Bruxelles, and Peter Higgs, University of Edinburgh, after whom the particle is named.

In 1964, Englert and his colleague, the late Robert Brout, were the first to publish work on what would become known as the Higgs boson in an article that appeared in the journal Physical Review Letters. Peter Higgs’ paper on the particle would be published just a few weeks later.

The men’s Higgs boson theories explained what gives matter mass. They said the universe is packed with Higgs bosons. As atoms and subatomic parts of atoms flit about, they intermingle with and exert a pull on Higgs bosons, which bunch around them in varying numbers. The more Higgs bosons a particle attracts, the greater its mass will be.

As part of the Nobel Prize tradition, the academy called the scientists as they were making the official announcement.

"I feel very well, of course," Englert told the academy upon hearing the news. "Now, I'm very happy."

Incandela said workers at CERN popped open a bottle of champagne upon hearing the news. "The place erupted into applause," he said.

The July 2012 discovery at CERN has been described as one of the biggest scientific accomplishments of the past 50 years, as it provides a glimpse into the nature of the universe.

While the discovery was made last year, the findings were described as tentative at first. Over time, continuous analysis led scientists to grow more and more confident that what they found was indeed the Higgs boson.

On March 14, Albert Einstein's birthday, CERN scientists said they were almost completely certain they had found their particle, after almost 50 years.

Since 1901, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in physics 106 times. The youngest winner was Lawrence Bragg, who won the prize in 1915 at the age of 25. The oldest physics laureate was Raymond Davis Jr., who was awarded the prize in 2002 at 88 years old. John Bardeen is the only physicist to receive two Nobel prizes, for his work with semiconductors and superconductivity.

On Monday, the academy awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Randy W. Schekman from the University of California at Berkeley, Thomas C. Südhof from Stanford University and James E. Rothman from Yale University for their work describing the cellular machinery behind the transport and secretion of proteins in the body’s cells.

Over the next few days, the annual awards will be given out for chemistry, literature, peace and economics.