The physicists behind the theory of the Higgs-boson particle are now Nobel prize winners after receiving the award this week….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The theoretical physicists behind the famous Higgs-boson particle are now Nobel prize winners after receiving word of the award being handed down to them on Tuesday.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences informed Professor Peter Higgs from England, and Francois Englert from Belgium about the award as an achievement for their work in physics that led to the discovery of the elusive particle in 2012.
The discovery led by scientists at CERN in Switzerland as part of the Large Hadron Collider project brought fact to Higgs and Englert’s 50 year old theory about how particles gain mass throughout the universe, thus creating matter.
“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy,” Higgs said via a statement released by Edinburgh University on Tuesday.
Higgs has notoriously shied away from the press over the years, but realizes he’ll face a storm of interviews and press requests once he returns from holiday. He was on vacation when the announcement about the award was made.
The theory behind the Higgs-boson particle has been a popular idea in physics ever since a team of scientists in the 1960’s first began to explore why particles in the universe gain mass, and the idea behind it all was there had to be a missing link somewhere that hadn’t be discovered.
The Higgs-boson particle is essentially a field that serves as a sort of speed bump for other particles bouncing around at the speed of light. A Higgs-boson particle attaches itself to electrons or other particles slowing them down enough to give them mass, and over time and collection of billions of particles creates matter.
The best explanation of the theory goes like this — imagine a snowy slope covered with white powder. A skier can go down the slope at great speed, but still has to navigate the snow using cunning moves and reactions. A person wearing snow shoes could also plod through the snowy field, but at a much slower rate. And then again a person could also trudge through the snow with nothing but regular shoes, but their speed would be even slower. Well imagine each individual snowflake as a Higgs-boson particle and the entire field of snow is what’s slowing down each individual person at different rates. This is what physicists call the Higgs-field and as particles slow down and begin running into each other and sticking together, matter is created.
“I am astounded at the amazing speed with which these results have emerged,” Higgs said in 2012 when the discovery was first made. “They are a testament to the expertise of the researchers and the elaborate technologies in place. I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge.”
The discovery of the Higgs-boson particle then allowed physicists to begin putting together models and ideas about how the universe was first formed billions upon billions of years ago as building blocks of creation start to come together.
The two award-winning physicists will split a prize from the academy valued at $1.2 million.
Famed physicist and renowned profession Stephen Hawking also offered his congratulations to the pair of scientists who received the award this week.
“In the early 60s, theorists were struggling to understand why particles have mass. Peter Higgs and Francois Englert proposed a mechanism called symmetry breaking. This mechanism also predicted a massive particle, the Higgs boson. The discovery last year at Cern of a particle with the correct properties confirms this prediction and is a triumph for theory,” Hawking said.
The Large Hadron Collider, which stretches over 17 miles in length and actually extends from Switzerland all the way into France, is still undergoing new building and expansion and scientists continue to study and explore the Higgs-boson particle as well as the exploration of the creation of our universe.