2013 Nobel for the Symmetry Breaking Theory that Predicted the Higgs Boson

By James Riordon

F. Englert

François Englert

Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs

Laureate Papers

The landmark papers the Laureates published that laid the foundation for spontaneous symmetry breaking appeared in the flagship APS journal Physical Review Letters in 1964. Both papers are available free-to-read to the general public. 

Broken Symmetry and the Mass of Gauge Vector Mesons
F. Englert and R. Brout
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 321 (1964) http://prl.aps.org/pdf/PRL/v13/i9/p321_1 

Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons
Peter W. Higgs
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 508 (1964) http://prl.aps.org/pdf/PRL/v13/i16/p508_1 

Higgs Boson

 Photo from Wikipedia

The discovery of the Higgs boson, announced on July 4, 2012, and celebrated around the world, elevated public interest in scientific research in an unexpected and astonishing way. The discovery was made possible by global scientific collaborations, including more than 1,500 U.S. scientists from national laboratories and more than 80 universities.llustrated in the picture above: One possible signature of a Higgs boson from a simulated collision between two protons. It decays almost immediately into two jets of hadrons and two electrons, visible as lines.

The 2013 Physics Nobel Prize has been awarded to two physicists who were instrumental in developing the theory that helps explain the origin of mass of elementary particles and predicts the existence of the Higgs Boson discovered last year. The prize, which recognizes the contributions of François Englert (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Peter Higgs (University of Edinburgh) for theoretical work, echoes the announcement of the 2010 American Physical Society's J. J. Sakurai prize, which was awarded to the two Nobel Laureates as well as four additional physicists who made significant contributions to the symmetry breaking work. 

"The discovery of the Higgs boson has captured the imagination of physicists and the public alike," said American Physical Society president Michael Turner. "It is hard to find a cab driver anywhere in the world who when he knows you are physicist doesn't ask about the Higgs boson. This is a tremendous achievement, involving more than 10,000 physicists from around the world to build, operate and analyze data from the most complex and most expensive science experiment ever built. The discovery of this new class of elementary particles not only completes one of the great intellectual achievements of the last century — the standard model of particle physics — but also raises new questions and has implications for other areas of physics including the birth of the Universe. Hats off to the global village of physicists who made this grand discovery possible, from Peter Higgs and François Englert to the thousands of scientists working at CERN — many from the US and many not even born when Higgs wrote his paper. The particle is truly worthy of the name that Leon Lederman gave it — the god particle." 

"We congratulate the Laureates and all who have contributed to this marvelous triumph for physics," said APS Editor in Chief Gene Sprouse. "APS is proud to have published the seminal papers that have led to this year's Nobel Prize."

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