30 scientists supported by the European Union's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions for research training and mobility were involved in the discovery of the Higgs Boson or so-called 'God Particle'. The sub-atomic particle, which experts believe is the basis for all matter in the Universe, was identified at CERN, the European nuclear research facility in Geneva, Switzerland. The discovery has been hailed as one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of science. The 30 scientists are part of two EU-backed initiatives, which have received €6.5 million in funding.
"We are extremely proud that the team responsible for the find included 30 of our researchers. It must be every scientist's dream to be part of an achievement like this; I hope it will encourage them to go even further in their quest to expand the frontiers of science - and that their work will inspire the girls and boys who will be our next generation of scientists," said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner who is responsible for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).
The 30 scientists have been working on the 'ACEOLE' and 'TALENT' projects, which made important contributions to the breakthrough. ACEOLE helped to develop the data readout systems used at the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator tunnel at CERN, where the particle was identified. TALENT, which provided operational support for the experiment, is developing measurement tools for a better understanding of the precise nature of the new particle.
Researchers use the 27-kilometre Large Hadron Collider to smash components called protons into each other at close to the speed of light. They then scour minute pieces of the debris for traces of particles that exist for just a fraction of a second before disintegrating. These elusive particles have been the subject of a 45-year search started by Professor Peter Higgs, a renowned UK physicist, to explain how 'matter' –from the stars and planets to every human being and creature in the world – is held together or attains 'mass'.
The 30 EU-funded scientists involved in the discovery have been supported by two specific EU grant schemes within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions: the 'Initial Training Networks', which support leading public and private research organisations in providing top-quality research and skills training for researchers at the earliest stages of their career and 'COFUND', which supports regional, national and international fellowship programmes. The EU is allocating more than €4.5 billion under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions between 2007 and 2013.