The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs, of Higgs boson fame. Beginning in the 1960s, the two scientists both independently developed theories about sub-atomic particles and the nature of mass. Those theories were recently confirmed by work made possible by the Large Hadron Collider, which discovered the existence of the Higgs boson last year, confirming many of the assumptions and calculations made by the Standard Model of particle physics.
We'll let the Nobel Committee, which opened their press statement with the words, "Here, at last!" explain further:
The awarded theory is a central part of the Standard Model of particle physics 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.
Englert, who took questions at the press conference via phone, said "You may imagine [winning the Nobel] is not very unpleasant. I am very happy." The notoriously shy Higgs could not even be reached by phone this morning, so the Nobel Committee was not even able to inform him that he won. (You click here to read some of Higgs's own thoughts about his career.)
The two men have only met one time — pictured above, with Higgs on the right — at the announcement of the Higgs boson discovery at CERN in July 2012. You can watch an archived video of the Nobel press conference, with Englert's reaction, below.
Yesterday, three biologists — James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas Südhof — were given the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research on the inner workings of cells. Below is the schedule for the other Nobels that will be awarded this week.
Monday, October 7
Physiology or Medicine: James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Südhof
Tuesday, October 8
Physics: François Englert and Peter Higgs
Wednesday, October 9
Chemistry: 11:45 a.m. CET at the earliest (5:45 a.m. EDT)
Thursday, October 10
Literature: 1.00 p.m. CET (7:00 a.m. EDT)
Friday, October 11
Peace: 11:00 a.m. CET (7:00 a.m. EDT)
Monday, October 14
Economic Sciences: 1:00 p.m. CET at the earliest (7:00 a.m. EDT)
Original post: You can watch announcement live online, via the YouTube stream below or on the Nobel Prize website. There is a lot of speculation that the committee will finally recognize the work of Peter Higgs, whose theories (which date back to the 1960s) led to the hypothesis, investigation, and eventual discovery of the Higgs boson, commonly known by the misnomer, "the God particle."
The award may go to Higgs himself, or perhaps to scientists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, who first detected the elusive particle last year. The boson is an elementary particle predicted by the Standard Model of physics and whose existence confirms the Higgs Field, the mechanism by which sub-atomic particles achieve mass.
Or it could be a total surprise! Which is why you should watch. The announcement, which was originally scheduled to be at 11:45 a.m. Stockholm time, has already been pushed back several times, and is not expected to be 12:45 p.m. or later. That's 6:45 a.m. Eastern, or 10:30 a.m. GMT.