Nobel 2013 in Physics to Peter Higgs (Britain) and Francois Englert (Belgium)
Stockholm: Francois Nobel Prize in physics of year 2013 jointly won by Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs here on Tuesday for their theory on how the most basic building blocks of the universe acquire mass, eventually forming the world we know today.
Their concept was confirmed last year by the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, also known as the Higgs boson, at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
“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.” “Of course I’m happy,” the 80-year-old Englert told reporters, thanking all those who helped him in his research.
Asked whether he could have imagined getting a Nobel Prize when he started the research 50 years ago, he said no. “You don’t work thinking to get the Nobel Prize, that’s not how you work,” Englert said. “(Still) we had the impression that we were doing something that was important, that would later on be used by other researchers.”
Englert and Higgs theorized about the existence of the particle in the 1960s to provide an answer to a riddle: why matter has mass. The tiny particle, they believed, acts like molasses on snow – causing other basic building blocks of nature to stick together, slow down and form atoms. But decades would pass before scientists at CERN were able to confirm its existence in July 2012. To find it, they had to build a $10 billion collider in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border.
“If you’re a physicist, you can’t get in a taxi anywhere in the world without having the driver ask you about the Higgs particle,” said Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago.
He said the finding of the Higgs completed the standard model, which is a basic picture of how physics operates on Earth. But beyond that, he said, it represents the first in a class of particles that scientists think played a role in shaping the universe. That means it points the way to tackling mysteries like the nature of so-called dark energy and dark matter. The physics prize was the second of this year’s Nobel awards to be announced. On Monday, the Nobel Prize in medicine was given to American scientists James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Sudhof for discoveries about how key substances are moved around within cells.
The prizes, established by Swedish industrialist and Alfred Nobel, will be handed out on Dec. 10 – the anniversary of his death in 1896. Each prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million).