The 2013 Nobel Physics Prize (Exclusive)

The 2013 Nobel Physics Prize (Exclusive)

(CERN’s Director General Rolf Heuer makes a celebratory speech in front of fellow physicists and the press) 

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Photo 2: CERN Press Conference, Oct 8th

(All photos: Lingyan Yu)

As the Nobel Prize news came through from Stockholm, CERN physicists burst into applause. CERN’s director general and experts held a press conference soon after to extend congratulations to Englert and Higgs for the award. They also acknowledged the work of the experimental physicists at CERN towards the discovery, and answered questions about its significance. 

The 2013 Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to Englert and Higgs for the theoretical discovery of the Higgs Boson, often called “God Particle” in the mainstream media, which was confirmed by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in July 2012. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s leading particle physics laboratory – a fact confirmed when they built the world’s largest particle accelerator to find the “God
Particle”.

In fact, CERN had a good claim to share the prize with Higgs; there was even talk of the whole organization being named as joint prize-winner. More than 6000 experimental physicists from all around the world joined in with the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, constructing sophisticated instruments – particle detectors – to study proton collisions at
CERN. They are the strongest supporters of Higgs’ theory.

During the press conference, CERN’s Director-General, Rolf Heuer, congratulated the new Nobel Laureates and pointed out the interdependence between theory and experiment in the particle physics community, commenting that “theory without experimental confirmation remains just theory, and an experiment without a theory to put to the test is no more than a collection of electronic components looking for a purpose.”

When asked about the significance of the discovery to the general public, Dr. Heuer explained that the Higgs boson, which is commonly known as the “God particle” in the mainstream media, is “the missing cornerstone of particle physics”. This “milestone in our understanding of nature” essentially confirms that the universe was formed the way scientists believe it was.

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Photo 3: A sophomore Physics student from Peking University takes a picture with CERN’s Director General

 

A sophomore from the Physics Department of Peking University asked about how to encourage young people to pursue a career in physics. Dr. Heuer then explained the internships and fellowships that are available for young people to do smaller experiments for CERN, and indicated that more resources have been gathered to attract young researchers over the past few years. In the end, he emphasized that “all sciences live on through young people”.

Dr. Heuer stated: “Wherever you are in the global particle physics community, you have contributed to this prize, and you too can feel a sense of pride and joy in the achievement.” This is perhaps the charm of science; a discipline that puts less emphasis on an individual’s personal fame, and more focus on continuing to explain the unknown.

Lingyan Yu, CNC News Assistant, Beijing Station (Reported from Swedish)

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