Higgs Boson theorists share physics Nobel Prize

The 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics has gone to Peter Higgs and François Englert for their prediction of the existence of the Higgs Boson in the 1960s, which was verified in 2012 with the Large Hadron Collider.

Today’s award from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences marks the UK’s 120th Nobel Prize.

Edinburgh University’s Prof Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize for the theory he developed in 1964, which states that fundamental particles have mass due to their interaction with a Higgs field. François Englert, Prof Emeritus at the Université Libre de Bruxelles has also been named on the prize.

‘I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy,’ said Prof Higgs, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Edinburgh University. ‘I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.’

Prof François Englert
Prof François Englert

David Willetts, minister for science and universities said: ‘This is the 23rd Nobel Prize for Physics to come to the UK – we should all be very proud of this wonderful achievement. It’s an incredible endorsement of the quality of UK science.

‘We should also celebrate the efforts of the thousands of scientists and engineers all over the world who have worked on the Large Hadron Collider and the long search for the Higgs Boson.’

The Higgs boson enables other fundamental particles to acquire their mass and its discovery is widely acknowledged as representing a major step in understanding the physical universe as it is key to the Standard Model of Physics, a unifying theory of the physical universe.

In 2012, almost 50 years after the theory was conceived, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) facility near Geneva confirmed the existence of the particle.

The discovery will form the basis for further research into the particle and its extensions beyond the so-called Standard Model.

‘The Higgs mechanism explains why fundamental particles have mass, and shows us that the forces describing electricity, magnetism and radioactivity are connected at a very deep level,’ said Tara Shears, LHCb, one of seven particle physics detector experiments collecting data at the Large Hadron Collider. ‘Without the Higgs, stable atoms could not form – there wouldn’t be planets or galaxies and we certainly couldn’t exist. It is a vital, integral part of the universe’s structure.

‘Predicting, and then discovering the Higgs boson is one of the very greatest achievements of modern physics. It’s a wonderful idea that opens our eyes to the deepest nature of the universe. That it has turned out to be true has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed. We shouldn’t forget that it’s fantastic, and important, that this work could happen in the UK too. The very best science happens here, as long as we can keep supporting it.’

The amazing discoveries of the Large Hadron Collider wouldn’t be possible without the highest achievements of engineering. Click here to read more.