October 8, 2013 - 17:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Peter Higgs, from the UK, and Francois Englert from Belgium, shared the prize, BBC News reported.
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 of Sciences.
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 UK media, adding that Higgs had also been unwell.
But the university released a prepared statement from Higgs, who is emeritus professor of theoretical physics: "I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy. I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle and to thank my family, friends and colleagues for their support. I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research."
Francois Englert 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 an hour.
The Nobel Prizes - which also cover chemistry, medicine, literature, peace and economics - are valued at 10m Swedish Krona. Laureates also receive a medal and a diploma.
The official citation for Englert and Higgs read: "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".
Cern director general Rolf Heuer said he was "thrilled" that this year's prize had gone to particle physics.
"The discovery of the Higgs boson at Cern last year, which validates the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, marks the culmination of decades of intellectual effort by many people around the world," he said.
The Higgs boson or Higgs particle is an elementary particle initially theorised in 1964, and tentatively confirmed to exist on March 14, 2013. The discovery has been called "monumental" because it appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field, which is pivotal to the Standard Model and other theories within particle physics. It would explain why some fundamental particles have mass when the symmetries controlling their interactions should require them to be massless, and—linked to this—why the weak force has a much shorter range than the electromagnetic force. Its existence and knowledge of its exact properties are expected to impact scientific knowledge across a range of fields. It should allow physicists to finally validate the last untested area of the Standard Model's approach to fundamental particles and forces, guide other theories and discoveries in particle physics, and—as with other fundamental discoveries of the past—potentially over time lead to developments in "new" physics, and new technologies.