CERN – Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize
in physics for their work on the theory of the
Peter Higgs, from Britain, and Francois Englert from
Belgium, shared the prize.
In the 1960s they were among several physicists who
proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic
building blocks of the universe have mass.
The mechanism predicts a particle – the Higgs boson
– which was finally discovered in 2012 at the Large
Hadron Collider at Cern in Switzerland.
“This year’s prize is about something small that
makes all the difference,” said Staffan Normark,
permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy
Professor Higgs is renowned for shying away from
the limelight, and he could not be located for interview
in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.
“He’s gone on holiday without a phone to avoid the
media storm,” his Edinburgh University physics colleague
Alan Walker told British media, adding that Higgs had
also been unwell.
But the university released a prepared statement
from Higgs, 84, who is an emeritus professor of
“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank
the Royal Swedish Academy,” he said.
Francois Englert, 80, said he was “very happy” to win
the award, speaking at the ceremony via phone link.
“At first I thought I didn’t have it [the prize] because
I didn’t see the announcement,” he told the committee,
after their news conference was delayed by more than
Higgs was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, but it was
in Edinburgh in 1964 that he had his big idea –
an explanation of why the matter in the universe has
substance, or mass.
His theory involved a missing particle in the Standard
Model of physics, which has come to be known as the
Within weeks, Francois Englert independently
published his own, similar theory, alongside his now
deceased colleague Robert Brout.
Three other physicists – Gerald Guralnik, Tom
Kibble and Carl Hagen – also made key contributions
to the theory, and spoke at the announcement of the
discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. (BBC)