STOCKHOLM Oct 8 Britain's Peter Higgs and
Francois Englert of Belgium won the Nobel Prize for physics on
Tuesday for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle
that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form
stars and planets.
Half a century after their original work, the new building
block of nature was finally detected in 2012 at the CERN
research centre's giant, underground particle-smasher near
Geneva. The discovery was hailed as one of the most important
The two scientists had been favourites to share the 8
million Swedish crown ($1.25 million) prize after their
theoretical work was vindicated by the CERN experiments.
To find the elusive particle, scientists at the Large Hadron
Collider (LHC) had to pore over data from the wreckage of
trillions of sub-atomic proton collisions.
"The awarded theory is a central part of the Standard Model
of particle physics that describes how the world is
constructed," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a
"According to the Standard Model, everything, from flowers
and people to stars and planets, consists of just a few building
blocks: matter particles."
The Higgs boson is the last piece of the Standard Model of
physics that describes the fundamental make-up of the universe.
Some commentators - though not scientists - have called it the
"God particle", for its role in turning the Big Bang into an
The will of Swedish dynamite millionaire Alfred Nobel limits
the award to a maximum of three people. Yet six scientists
published relevant papers in 1964 and thousands more have worked
to detect the Higgs at the LHC.
Englert, 80, and his colleague Robert Brout - who died in
2011 - were first to publish, but 84-year-old Higgs followed
just a couple of weeks later and was the first person to
explicitly predict the existence of a new particle.
Similar proposals from American researchers Carl Hagen and
Gerald Guralnik and Britain's Tom Kibble appeared shortly
Their combined work shows how elementary particles inside
atoms gain mass by interacting with an invisible field pervading
all of space - and the more they interact, the heavier they
become. The particle associated with the field is the Higgs