Francois Englert, 80, and Peter Higgs, 84, won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for the theory of how particles acquire mass.
Englehart and Higgs separately proposed this theory — what became known as the Higgs mechanism — in 1964. The theory also rests on the existence of the Higgs particle — a subatomic particle that provides proof of an invisible field that gives mass to matter.
But nearly five decades would pass before scientists could confirm the existence of a Higgs boson.
On July 4, 2012, physicists using the Large Hardon Collider at CERN announced they had found a new particle that had the properties of the long-sought boson. The discovery was hailed as the biggest scientific breakthrough of this century.
Higgs, now a professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, is notoriously modest about his involvement with the particle that bears his name. He’s known as the JD Salinger of physics, and couldn’t even be found when organisers wanted to inform him of his Nobel Prize.
As the Guardian writes: “Higgs plays down his role in developing the idea, but there is no dismissing the importance of the theory itself.”
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