Archive for Francois Englert

The 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics .. goes to Englert and Higgs

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by telescoper

Well, there we are. After an excruciating (and unexplained) delay the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics has gone to François Englert and Peter Higgs. You can find the full press release here; the first section of text reads:

François Englert and Peter W. Higgs are jointly  awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 for the  theory of how particles acquire mass. In 1964, they  proposed the theory independently of each other  (Englert together with his now deceased colleague  Robert Brout). In 2012, their ideas were confirmed  by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the  CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland. The awarded theory is a central part of the Standard  Model of particle  hysics that describes how the world is  constructed. According to the Standard Model, every­thing, from flowers and people to stars and planets,  consists of just a few building blocks: matter particles.  These particles are governed by forces mediated by force  particles that make sure everything works as it should. The entire Standard Model also rests on the existence  of a special kind of particle: the Higgs particle. This  particle originates from an invisible field that fills up  all space. Even when the universe seems empty this  field is there. Without it, we would not exist, because  it is from contact with the field that particles acquire  mass. The theory proposed by Englert and Higgs  describes this process.

Anyway, congratulations to the two Laureates. I did get a bit excited when the rumour started that the winner this year would be someone born in Newcastle upon Tyne whose first name is Peter, but I guess I’ll have to wait until next year..

Oh, and François Englert is the first ever Belgian winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics!

I have to head off to London for a Parliamentary Reception organized by the Science & Technology Facilities Council, so I’ll have to leave it there but please feel free to add reactions to the announcement via the Comments Box.

P.S. Yesterday’s poll is now closed.

Physics Nobel Betting

Posted in Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by telescoper

I’m back in circulation just in time for tomorrow’s announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics. The smart money is going on an award for the discovery of the Higgs Boson, but to whom should it be awarded. Today’s Grauniad summarizes the difficulties thus:

The committee can contrive the wording of the prize to narrow the number downwards and this is likely to happen. The prize could go to François Englert, who published the idea first, and Peter Higgs, who was second, but crucially was first to flag up the new particle. But that would rebuff the trio of Gerald Guralnik, Carl Richard Hagen and Tom Kibble, who developed the theory separately and published just a month after Higgs. The possibility has already caused acrimony among the scientists. Guralnik and Hagen, two US researchers, believe European physicists have conspired to erase their contribution from history.

This doesn’t seem to me to be entirely accurate, though. As far as I understand it, Higgs was the only one of the names above to mention a massive scalar particle, There is, I believe, therefore a strong case that the Nobel Prize should be awarded to Peter Higgs outright. Or if not to him, to some other person called Peter who was born in the North East…

However, I am used to being in a minority of one so there will undoubtedly be many others who feel differently.  Time for a poll! This one is different from my usual ones, in that you are allowed to vote more than once. Please use up to three votes: if you think Peter Higgs should win it outright vote three times for him. If you think it should be a three way split then vote for three different people, etc.

I should say that I don’t think the Nobel Committee for Physics is allowed to make an award to an institution such as CERN, but I’ve left that option in to see whether folks think that tradition should change..

UPDATE: Here are the Thomson-Reuters predictions, including Marcy, Mayor and Queloz for Extra Solar Planets…