NPR : News

Filed Under:

Higgs Boson Researchers Awarded The Nobel Prize In Physics

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their theory of how particles acquire mass, the Swedish committee announced Tuesday.

The prize was given "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."

In 1964, Higgs of Britain and Englert of Belgium (along with a now-deceased colleague), independently proposed a particle as part of a mechanism to explain how the universe works at its most basic level. The existence of that particle, known today as the Higgs boson, or Higgs particle (and sometimes the "God particle"), was confirmed after a series of high-energy collisions at the LHC.

CERN tweets:

"The awarded theory is a central part of the Standard Model of particle physics that describes how the world is constructed," the Nobel committee said in a statement. "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," the committee said. "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."

Higgs, 84, is with the University of Edinburgh. Englert, 80, is with the Free University of Brussels.

NPR science correspondent Geoffrey Brumfiel says that "the field is what actually does all the work in theoretical physics. The Higgs particle (or Higgs boson) is an excitation of this field."

"Higgs unifies the electromagnetic force with the weak nuclear force," Brumfiel explains. "This brings physicists a bit closer to an elusive theory of everything."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


In The 'Golden Age Of Television,' Advertising Intersects With Programming

NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum about her essay on the new model of advertising in the so-called "golden age of television."

California City Orders Restaurants To Use Disposable Plates, Cups

Officials in Fort Bragg also ordered restaurants to serve water to customers only upon request. As part of a stage 3 water emergency, things like washing cars using city water are prohibited, too.

Clinton Breaks With Obama To Oppose Asia Trade Deal

"What I know of it, as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," the Democrat said, breaking with President Obama on his signature trade deal he hopes to push through Congress.
WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: Lessons From Israel's Search For Water

For this month's Environmental Outlook: Ten years ago, Israel experienced a prolonged drought that forced the country to come up with a strategy to address water scarcity. What its experience could teach an increasingly water-starved planet.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.