In 1964, two young scientists known as Peter Higgs and Francois Englert (and a third, the now deceased Robert Brout, who was collaborating with Englert at the time) independently proposed a theory of how subatomic particles acquire mass. It would take nearly half a century, thousands of scientists and technicians and billions of dollars to find the capstone experimental proof, but when two gigantic experimental collaborations at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland announced the discovery of the Higgs boson to the world on July 4, 2012, the theory was just about confirmed.
Of all the fundamental particles, the Higgs boson stands out as being fundamentally different from all the rest. The most complete explanation thus far in modern physics of how the universe works, the framework known as the Standard Model, holds that fields and their particle manifestations are the essential building blocks of the universe. This standard model rests upon the existence of the Higgs boson, which is connected to a field that fills up all of space and gives subatomic particles, such as electrons and quarks, their mass.
“The question of how particles acquire mass has been one of the fundamental puzzles in particle physics and was the last piece of the standard model to fall into place,” said H. Frederick Dylla, the executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). “This is one of the great achievements in the history of physics, and the awarding of the prize could not be more timely, since the Higgs boson was finally observed on July 4 last year at CERN in Switzerland.”
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From the Guardian
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From the European Parliament
© 2012, European Union
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