Why is the Higgs Boson So Important? AIP Gathers Expert Commentary and Background Info on Nobel Prize Resource Page

News Release


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Jason Socrates Bardi
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Francois Englert


Peter Higgs

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 8, 2013) — The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to François Englert of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider."

To help journalists and the public understand the context of this remarkable theory, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) has compiled a Physics Nobel Prize Resources page featuring relevant scientific papers and articles, quotes from experts, multimedia, and other resources. The page can be accessed at https://www.aip.org/science-news/nobel/physics2013 and will be updated throughout the day. Highlights are included below:



In 1964, two young scientists known as Peter Higgs and Francois Englert (and a third, the now deceased Robert Brout, who was collaborating with Englert at the time) independently proposed a theory of how subatomic particles acquire mass. It would take nearly half a century, thousands of scientists and technicians and billions of dollars to find the capstone experimental proof, but when two gigantic experimental collaborations at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland announced the discovery of the Higgs boson to the world on July 4, 2012, the theory was just about confirmed.

Of all the fundamental particles, the Higgs boson stands out as being fundamentally different from all the rest. The most complete explanation thus far in modern physics of how the universe works, the framework known as the Standard Model, holds that fields and their particle manifestations are the essential building blocks of the universe. This standard model rests upon the existence of the Higgs boson, which is connected to a field that fills up all of space and gives subatomic particles, such as electrons and quarks, their mass.


Statement from AIP Executive Director and CEO

“The question of how particles acquire mass has been one of the fundamental puzzles in particle physics and was the last piece of the standard model to fall into place,” said H. Frederick Dylla, the executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). “This is one of the great achievements in the history of physics, and the awarding of the prize could not be more timely, since the Higgs boson was finally observed on July 4 last year at CERN in Switzerland.”

— Dr. H. Frederick Dylla, executive director and CEO, American Institute of Physics


Seminal Papers, Courtesy of the American Physical Society

Broken Symmetry and the Mass of Gauge Vector Mesons
F. Englert and R. Brout
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 321 (1964)

Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons
Peter W. Higgs
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 508 (1964)


Additional seminal work

Global Conservation Laws and Massless Particles
G.S. Guralnik, C.R. Hagen, and T.W.B. Kibble
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 585 (1964)


“Search and Discovery” Physics Today Stories

“The Higgs particle, or something much like it, has been spotted,”
Johanna L. Miller
Phys. Today, Sept. 2012

“Gauge symmetry saved, mass endowed,”
Steven K. Blau
Phys. Today, Sept. 2012



Picture of Englert
This image was donated to AIP by Englert in July 2004. Photo is from 1998.
Credit line: “Francois Englert, courtesy AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives”


Other Relevant Papers Published by AIP

“The topology of the electroweak interaction”
Jürgen Tolksdorf
J. Math. Phys. 46, 042304 (2005)

“Superconnections and the Higgs field”
G. Roepstorff
J. Math. Phys. 40, 2698 (1999)

Deriving the standard model from the simplest two-point K cycle
R. Wulkenhaar
J. Math. Phys. 37, 3797 (1996)

“Particle states and scattering theory in abelian gauge model with spontaneously broken symmetry”
Garner Bishop and Kurt Haller
J. Math. Phys. 24, 932 (1983)


Other Relevant Papers Published by AIP Member Societies

“Spontaneous Symmetry Breakdown without Massless Bosons”
Peter W. Higgs
Phys. Rev. 145, 1156 (1966)

“Physics story of the year 2012; Higgs boson mass sorted by CERN”
Dan MacIsaac
Phys. Teach. 50, 381 (2012)

“The Higgs Boson: Is the End in Sight?”
Don Lincoln
Phys. Teach. 50, 332 (2012)

“A question of mass”
Jeremy Bernstein
Am. J. Phys. 79, 25 (2011)

“Resource Letter: SM-1: The standard model and beyond”
Jonathan L. Rosner
Am. J. Phys. 71, 302 (2003)


Related Physics Today Articles

“The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us
to the Edge of a New World; Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the ‘God Particle’”

Don Lincoln
Phys. Today 66, July, 50 (2013)

“The Large Hadron Collider yields tantalizing hints of the Higgs boson”
Bertram M. Schwarzschild
Phys. Today 65, February, 16 (2012)

“Reevaluation of Top Quark Data Raises Estimate of Higgs Boson's Mass”
Bertram Schwarzschild
Phys. Today 57, August, 26 (2004)

“Slowly but Steadily, Fermilab Pushes the Upgraded Tevatron toward Its Design Goals”
Barbara Goss Levi
Phys. Today 55, June, 16 (2002)

“Lights out at LEP”
Bertram Schwarzschild
Phys. Today 53, December, 18 (2000)

“LHC May Be on Collision Course with Higgs Boson”
Gianluigi Fogli and Eligio Lisi
Phys. Today 49, March, 129 (1996)

“The Concept of Mass”
Lev B. Okun
Phys. Today 42, June, 31 (1989)

“Identifying the Higgs Boson”
John P. Rutherfoord
Phys. Today 38, February, 104 (1985)

“Has the Higgs boson been seen in the Crystal Ball?”
Bertram M. Schwarzschild
Phys. Today 37, October, 18 (1984)


About AIP

The American Institute of Physics is an organization of physical science societies, representing scientists, engineers and educators. Through its Physics Resources Center, AIP delivers valuable services and expertise in education and student programs, science communications, government relations, career services for science and engineering professionals, statistical research in physics employment and education, industrial outreach, and the history of physics and allied fields. AIP publishes Physics Today, the most influential and closely followed magazine of the physics community, and is also home to Society of Physics Students and the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. AIP owns AIP Publishing LLC, a scholarly publisher in the physical and related sciences. http://www.aip.org.


About AIP Publishing

AIP Publishing LLC provides the global physical science community with a comprehensive collection of highly cited peer reviewed scientific information. Accessed by researchers at nearly 4,000 institutions worldwide, AIP Publishing's portfolio of 17 journals includes prestigious titles such as Applied Physics Letters, Journal of Applied Physics and The Journal of Chemical Physics, and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. AIP Publishing also publishes on behalf of several of AIP's Member Societies and other publishing partners. http://journals.aip.org.