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Physics Nobel Prize's theories backed by EU-funded researchers in 2012
Picture of CERN's Large Hadron Collider particle accelator
9 October

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics has been jointly awarded to the Belgian physicist François Englert and British physicist Peter W. Higgs. They received the prize ‘for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles’. A group of Marie Curie fellows was part of the team presenting, back in 2012, evidence on Higgs’ theories, who 50 years ago predicted the existence of a particle that holds the Universe together.

Six of the 17 fellows associated with an ‘Initial Training Network’, ACEOLE, were directly involved in the revolutionary sub-atomic particle discovery of the Higgs Boson, claimed on 4 July 2012 by the CERN, the European nuclear research facility. Experts believe this particle gives matter mass.

The six scientists involved helped to develop the data readout systems used at the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator tunnel at CERN, where the particle was identified. Researchers observed clear signs of the elusive particle that gives matter mass and holds the physical fabric of the Universe together, the so-called Higgs boson.

Picture of CERN's Large Hadron Collider particle accelator

CERN's Large Hadron Collider particle accelator

The discovery would plug a gaping hole in the Standard Model, the best accepted theory describing the fundamental particles, forces and interactions that make up the visible universe. The discovery stands out as one of the great scientific achievements of the 21st Century so far.

Researchers from another EU-funded training network, TALENT, provided, at the time, operational support for the experiment. This other network, created only last year, is developing measurement tools for a better understanding of the precise nature of the new particle. The project is also managed by the REA.

18 additional fellows, covered by other two research projects (COFUND-CERN and COFUND-CERN-2010), which support regional, national and international fellowship programmes, have also been indirectly involved, as well as the LHC-PHYS Team, an 'IIF' project funded under FP6, the former EU Framework Programme for Research and Development.