• Sweden's news in English

Higgs and Englert share Nobel physics prize

The Local · 8 Oct 2013, 14:45

Published: 08 Oct 2013 12:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Oct 2013 14:45 GMT+02:00

The two were awarded "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles".

The discovery, made at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Switzerland, has been described as one of the most important scientific finds ever.

"If you ask me, this was the most beautiful experiment ever done," Björn Jonson, a professor of physics at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, told The Local following Tuesday's announcement.

"As one of the Cern directors told me once, 'A moon landing is nothing compared to this.'"

Professor Englert was thrilled with the news when reached by telephone during the announcement.

"You may imagine that this is not very unpleasant, of course. I am very, very happy, to have that recognition of this extraordinary reward," he said to a chuckle from the crowd.

"I'm very happy, what more can I say."

He added that he planned to pass on his congratulations to Professor Higgs, who could not be reached by the academy for comment and has been in hiding all day, according to Swedish media.

"I'm going to congratulate him of course, because I think he did very important and excellent work," Englert told The Local's David Landes, adding that he had never met Professor Higgs until the July 4th conference at Cern last year.

Later on Tuesday, Higgs issued a statement through Edinburgh University, where he is an emeritus professor.

"I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy," the statement read.

"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."

The pair of professors independently proposed the winning theory back in 1964, with Englert working together with his now deceased colleague Robert Brout.

Their work, however, was not confirmed until last year when the Higgs particle was discovered at Cern, which National Geographic magazine once described as "a setting that calls to mind the subterranean lair of one of those James Bond villains" - as it is 300 feet underground.

The theory proposed by the laureates is a central part of the Standard Model of particle physics that describes how the world is constructed, the committee wrote.

Englert told the crowd at the Stockholm Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that he remained unsure what he would do with the prize money.

The prize money was downgraded by 20 percent last year, with the award-givers citing the financial markets' ill health for the cut in cash. Until 2010, the laureates got to share in total 10 million kronor ($1.6 million), but since last year it has been 8 million kronor. The money comes from the pot of gold that Nobel set aside specifically for the prizes.

François Englert was born in 1932 in Belgium, and has a Ph.D from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, in Belgium. He is now Professor Emeritus at the same university.

Peter W. Higgs is a UK citizen, born in 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne. He studied at King's College, University of London, and is the professor emeritus at University of Edinburgh.

Swedish Royal Academy member Jonson explained that the names of Higgs and Englert have been circulating among Academy members since August, although the final decision to award the pair the Nobel Prize in physics was made on Tuesday morning, with about 100 members present.

The announcement was delayed three times and the winners revealed one hour later than the initial plan of 11.45am. The academy did not initially explain the reason behind the delay, but the committee's website announced that "The Academy is still in session" as the crowd waited.

Story continues below…

When asked about the delay, Jonson refused to comment, explaining that Academy proceedings are kept secret for 50 years. However, he said that on one occasion, back in 1912, the Academy at large went against the Nobel Committee's recommendation.

"The laureate originally proposed in 1912 then won the prize in 1913," he told The Local.

Some observers theorized that the Academy was wrestling with if and how Cern as an institution could share in the 2013 Nobel physics prize. While Jonson refused to offer any details on if and how that discussion came up during the Academy's deliberations on Tuesday, he said that "theoretically" an institution could share in a Nobel physics prize, but that it hasn't ever happened.

The news comes after two Americans and one German won the Medicine Prize on Monday for their research into cell transportation systems.

Follow our live blog of the Nobel week here .

The Local

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
14,000 illegal immigrants disappear without trace
Swedish police officers patrolling Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

14,000 illegal immigrants disappear without trace

10 hours ago

More than 14,000 foreign nationals told to leave Sweden have instead gone underground, with police saying there is little they can do to enforce deportation orders.

Ahoy! Swede builds giant pirate ship in his garden
This picture of the boat has more than 14,700 likes on Facebook. Photo: Private

Ahoy! Swede builds giant pirate ship in his garden

10 hours ago

A Swedish man found Facebook fame after pictures of a giant pirate ship he built for his children when he was on sick leave from work went viral on Friday.

'She's a forerunner and inspiration for startups'
Niklas Zennström, Jane Walerud and Jessica Stark. Photo: SUP46

'She's a forerunner and inspiration for startups'

12 hours ago

A US-born entrepreneur who has helped pave the way for women in tech has joined the ranks of some of Sweden's top innovators and businesspeople in a Swedish startup hall of fame.

Swedish court: 'We cannot ban Pirate Bay'
Bredbandsbolaget was not compelled to block the Swedish file-sharing site, Pirate Bay. Vilhelm Stokstad / TT

Swedish court: 'We cannot ban Pirate Bay'

14 hours ago

In a landmark decision, a Swedish court on Friday ruled that the country's internet service providers cannot be forced to block controversial Swedish file-sharing site Pirate Bay.

Police: we can't protect Sweden from terrorists
Swedish police guarding the government building in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Police: we can't protect Sweden from terrorists

15 hours ago

After Sweden raised its terror threat alert to record high levels last week, more and more police officers on the beat warn that their weapons are not good enough to prevent a potential terror attack.

Swedish school: 'We have not banned Lucia'
Children celebrating Lucia in Stockholm. Photo: Jack Mikrut/TT

Swedish school: 'We have not banned Lucia'

16 hours ago

A Swedish nursery school has insisted it is not banning a beloved December tradition after a Facebook message posted by a furious parent went viral.

Winter in Sweden presented by Kungsberget
Stockholm's secret ski resort: Kungsberget
Catch air at the Kungsberget snowpark. File photo: Kungsberget

Stockholm's secret ski resort: Kungsberget

18 hours ago

Not everyone enjoys 8-hour car trips or expensive train tickets just to hit the slopes. That's why so many Stockholmers opt for Kungsberget – the majestic mountain just two hours away. The Local finds out more.

Winter in Sweden presented by Lofsdalen
Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness
File photo: Lofsdalen

Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness

19 hours ago

Sweden has more than a hundred ski resorts – but there’s only one where you can sip your very own cask of whisky on the top of a mountain peak. The Local finds out more about Lofsdalen – one of Sweden’s wildest resorts.

Will Swedish shoppers go nuts for Black Friday?
Shoppers at the Walmart chain in the US on Black Friday. Photo: Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images

Will Swedish shoppers go nuts for Black Friday?

19 hours ago

Stores are pushing to convince Swedish shoppers to embrace US sales day 'Black Friday'. But will the phenomenon catch on?

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish mulled wine: glögg
Swedish mulled wine served the traditional way. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

How to make Swedish mulled wine: glögg

21 hours ago

One drink in particular keeps the Swedes warm in winter: glögg. The beverage has been a Christmas tradition in Sweden since the 1890s. John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.

Sponsored Article
11 reasons students pick Stockholm University
POLL: Swedes back new asylum rules
Sponsored Article
Top five UK weekend getaways from Sweden
Five weirdest Christmas attacks on Sweden's famous straw goat
Sponsored Article
After Paris: 'The war is not only against Isis'
Blog updates

25 November

So What Does An Ambassador Do? (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I know that my mum is super proud that I’m an Ambassador. But if you asked..." READ »


20 November

Editor’s blog, November 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, It has been a long and busy week for The Local as we reported on..." READ »

Five myths about Sweden's refugees
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm solved a startup’s housing crisis
How did this missing Swedish cat turn up in southern France?
Sponsored Article
Swedish researchers find Ice Age 'missing link'
Sponsored Article
Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness
Sponsored Article
Beaches, bikes, and buds: studying in Malmö
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
People-watching: November 25th
What do Swedes want for Christmas?
GUIDE: How to help refugees if you live in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Sweden must combat extremist 'mirage'
Mystery ice circle in Swedish river
IN PICTURES: New royal winter snaps of Sweden's Princess Estelle
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to figure out healthcare abroad
Stockholm film festival's top movies
Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: the new epicentre of global leadership
Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
‘Food choices in Sweden destroy forests in Asia’
People-watching: November 20th-22nd
Swedish King calls for bathtub ban
Analysis & Opinion
Why you should care about Sweden raising its terror threat level
Sponsored Article
The cheapest and fastest way to transfer money
Stockholm's best international bars
Is this the best warning sign ever?
Why are more Swedes getting fat?
Sweden's tribute to Paris victims
What is Sweden's sexiest name?
VIDEO: Madonna's emotional tribute to Paris victims at Stockholm gig
Nine of the merriest Swedish Christmas fairs
Sweden cashes in on new kronor banknotes
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: