by Ilka Emig
“It’s very nice to be right sometimes”
Imagine you think of a crazy theory and write a paper about it, and 48 years later some scientists do an experiment and say ‘You were right with your crazy theory’. And one year later they give you the Nobel Prize for it. That’s what happened to Peter Higgs, along with François Englert, both professors, both physicists.
Peter Higgs & François Englert
Higgs and Englert said in 1964 that there must be a very small thing, something so small you cannot imagine how small. The smallest of the smallest. Something that explains the way the world works. Something that explains why mass exists. It was called the Higgs particle (also called Higgs boson), named after Peter Higgs himself. Not bad to have something named after your name!
But it was all theory! Until last year a group of scientists in Switzerland could show this tiny particle in a real experiment. This was done in a machine, a gigantic circle, in which all kinds of tiny things can be speed up to nearly the speed of light. The exact name of this machine is LHC (Large Hadron Collider). And there the scientists found the Higgs particle. It behaved in the exact way Peter Higgs claimed it would many years ago.
“I’m thrilled that this year’s Nobel Prize has gone to particle physics”
CERN Director General Rolf Heuer
The research institute in Switzerland is called CERN or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and when they told Peter Higgs about their successful experiment he was excited. “It’s very nice to be right sometimes,” he said. “It has certainly been a long wait.” Oh yes, it has! 48 years to be specific. Peter Higgs is now 84 years old, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics just some days ago.