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 these scientists’ theories, who 50 years ago predicted the existence of a particle that holds the Universe together.
Six of the 17 fellows associated with one of our Initial Training Networks, 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 fellows involved helped to develop the data readout systems used at the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator tunnel at CERN, where the particle was identified. Scientists 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.
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 ITN we manage, 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. 18 additional fellows, covered by two COFUND projects (COFUND-CERN and COFUND-CERN-2010), 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.