“for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”
That was the official consideration of the Nobel committee to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs. In 1964, they proposed the theory independently of each other (Englert together with his now deceased colleague Robert Brout). In 2012, their ideas were confirmed by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland.
One very special building block
The awarded theory is a central part of the Standard Model of particle physics that describes how the world is constructed. According to the Standard Model, everything, from flowers and people to stars and planets, consists of just a few building blocks: matter particles. These particles are governed by forces mediated by force particles that make sure everything works as it should.
The entire Standard Model also rests on the existence of a special kind of particle: the Higgs particle. This particle originates from an invisible field that fills up all space. Even when the universe seems empty this field is there. Without it, we would not exist, because it is from contact with the field that particles acquire mass. The theory proposed by Englert and Higgs describes this process.
Nobel backing for Horizon 2020
With Englert and Higgs, the European Research Programme Horizon 2020 now has some very famous defenders. Last year Professor François Englert called cutting the EU research budget “a catastrophe” while professor Higgs called it “unwise”.
François Englert is a Belgian citizen and Professor emeritus at Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. Peter W. Higgs is a UK citizen and Professor emeritus at University of Edinburgh, UK.
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