CERN congratulates Englert and Higgs on Nobel in physics

François Englert (left) and Peter Higgs at CERN on 4 July 2012, on the occasion of the announcement of the discovery of a Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS experiments (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

CERN congratulates François Englert and Peter W. Higgs on the award of the Nobel prize in physics “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.” The announcement by the ATLAS and CMS experiments took place on 4 July last year.

“I’m thrilled that this year’s Nobel prize has gone to particle physics,” says CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. “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.”

Members of the ATLAS and CMS collaborations react with jubilation at CERN as the announcement is made (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

The Brout-Englert-Higgs (BEH) mechanism was first proposed in 1964 in two papers published independently, the first by Belgian physicists Robert Brout and François Englert, and the second by British physicist Peter Higgs. It explains how the force responsible for beta decay is much weaker than electromagnetism, but is better known as the mechanism that endows fundamental particles with mass. A third paper, published by Americans Gerald Guralnik and Carl Hagen with their British colleague Tom Kibble further contributed to the development of the new idea, which now forms an essential part of the Standard Model of particle physics. As was pointed out by Higgs, a key prediction of the idea is the existence of a massive boson of a new type, which was discovered by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN in 2012.

The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which we, and all the visible matter in the universe, are made, along with the interactions that govern their behaviour. It is a remarkably successful theory that has been thoroughly tested by experiment over many years. Until last year, the BEH mechanism was the last remaining piece of the model to be experimentally verified. Now that it has been found, experiments at CERN are eagerly looking for physics beyond the Standard Model.

The Higgs particle was discovered by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, each of which involves over 3000 people from all around the world. They have constructed sophisticated instruments – particle detectors – to study proton collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), itself a highly complex instrument involving many people and institutes in its construction.

CERN will be holding a press conference at 2pm CET today in the Globe of Science and Innovation. For those unable to attend, it will be webcast. Media questions can be submitted by Twitter using the hashtag #BosonNobel.  

About the Higgs boson

Elementary particles may have gained their mass from an elusive particle – the Higgs boson

The Standard Model explains how the basic building blocks of matter interact, governed by four fundamental forces

Updates about the Higgs boson

1 Sep 2015 — At the 2015 LHCP conference the collaborations presented for the first time combined measurements of many properties of the Higgs boson

More Higgs boson updates

5 Jul 2016 — To celebrate the fourth birthday of the Higgs boson announcement CERN invites you to make your own particle-based pizza

4 Jul 2016 — A new citizen science project gives sofa-scientists the chance to search for previously undiscovered particles

18 May 2016 — Do recent discoveries mean there’s nothing left? Find out what the future holds for theoretical physics in our final In Theory series installment

17 Mar 2015 — Today the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented for the first time a combination of their results on the mass of the Higgs boson

27 Jan 2015 — Recent publications from CMS use data from the LHC's first run to shed light on the properties of the Higgs boson

12 Nov 2014 — Without a doubt, it is a Higgs boson, but is it the Higgs boson of the Standard Model? Run 2 of the LHC find out, says theorist John Ellis

26 Sep 2014 — In CERN’s 60th year, the first proof of the existence of the Higgs boson earns a Guinness World Record for CERN, ATLAS and CMS

7 Jul 2014 — At ICHEP in Valencia, Spain, all four LHC experiments presented new results from the LHC’s first run. Run 2 physics holds much promise

23 Jun 2014 — Results reported by ATLAS and CMS discuss the decay of Higgs bosons directly to fermions, the particles that make up matter

19 May 2014 — Teach the machines: CERN launches competition to develop machine-learning analysis techniques for Higgs data

31 Mar 2014 — At the Moriond conference CMS presented the best constraint yet of the Higgs boson “width”, a parameter that determines the particle’s lifetime

10 Mar 2014 — On his first trip to CERN since sharing the Nobel prize in physics last year with Peter Higgs, François Englert talks Higgs bosons and supersymmetry

26 Feb 2014 — Watch François Englert explain the equations for the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism that gives particles mass, with the help of a blackboard

19 Dec 2013 — Higgs boson decays, a Nobel prize for Higgs and Englert and a huge Open Days event were among the big stories at CERN this year

3 Dec 2013 — The CMS collaboration have measured the decay of the Higgs boson to pairs of bottom quarks and to pairs of tau leptons

27 Nov 2013 — The ATLAS experiment at CERN has found evidence for the Higgs boson decaying to two tau particles

25 Oct 2013 — CERN, along with Peter Higgs and François Englert, today receives the Prince of Asturias Award during a ceremony in Spain

9 Oct 2013 — Cameras were rolling in CERN's building 40 when members of the ATLAS and CMS collaborations heard the news from Stockholm live yesterday

4 Jul 2013 — In the first year after the discovery of the Higgs boson, physicists from ATLAS and CMS have been busy studying the properties of the new particle

16 May 2013 — In this animated lesson for TED-Ed, CERN physicists David Barney and Steven Goldfarb use the Socratic method to explain the Higgs boson