'God particle' discovery poses Nobel dilemma

Oct 07, 2012 by Mariette Le Roux And Laurent Banguet
Graphic provided in July by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) shows a representation of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment in the search for the Higgs boson.

On July 4, scientists announced they had discovered a new particle that may be the fabled Higgs boson, an exploit that would rank as the greatest achievement in physics in more than half a century.

But they also created a headache for the jury that will decide next Tuesday's Nobel Prize for Physics.

Historic though it is, does the announcement deserve the award?

And if so, who should get it?

The breakthrough at the European Organisation for (CERN) touches on the agonising quest to find the "," so called for being everywhere and elusive at the same time.

Named after British physicist Peter Higgs, the boson is a key to our concept of matter, as it could explain why particles have mass. Without the Higgs, the Universe as we know it would simply not exist, according to the theory.

"This is the physics version of the discovery of DNA," says Peter Knight, president of Britain's Institute of Physics.

But whether the July 4 fireworks will unlock the great prize is unclear.

"It's a big discovery. That's all I'm going to say," Lars Brink, a member of the for physics, told AFP.

Some Nobel-watchers are cautious, given that the new particle has not yet been officially sealed as the Higgs.

Scientists are almost certain it is the coveted beast, for they found it at a range of mass that fits with their calculations.

Yet they still need to confirm this, which means further work to see how it behaves and reacts with other . Indeed, there is a remote possibility that the new particle is not the Higgs, although this would be an even more groundshaking announcement.

As Higgs himself readily admits, vital contributions to the theoretical groundwork were made by others.

In fact, six physicists, each building on the work of others, published a flurry of papers on aspects of the theory within four months of each other back in 1964.

The first were Belgians Robert Brout, who died last year, and Francois Englert.

This was followed by Higgs, who was the first to say only a new particle would explain the anomalies of mass.

Then came a trio of Americans Dick Hagen and Gerry Guralnik and Briton Tom Kibble.

A further complication is that thousands of physicists worked in the two labs at CERN's Large Hadron Collider near Geneva where Higgs experiments were conducted independently of each other.

So the question is whether the jury considers July's announcement to be sufficient even if the boson's Higgsishness remains unconfirmed.

Then it must decide whether theoreticians or experimentalists—or both—should get the glory.

At most three names, although they can include organisations, can share a Nobel, but the prize cannot be given posthumously.

The Nobel will "eventually" go to the Higgs, "but not this year, as the evidence has come rather late, and it is not yet certain that the newly-discovered particle is in fact a ," predicted John Ellis, professor of theoretical physics at King's College London and a researcher at CERN.

Etienne Klein, a physicist at France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), said the boson was a shoo-in for a Nobel.

He urged the jury to "take a gamble" and award it jointly to Higgs, Englert and CERN.

"You must also note that Higgs is not in the bloom of youth"—he is 83—"and this may be a form of age-related pressure which would help," said Klein.

Pierre Marage, vice rector of academic policies and research at the Free University of Brussels, where Brout and Englert carried out their work, said a Brout-Higgs award was best.

And a spot for ?

"There's nothing stopping us from giving the prize to an organisation. But it has not been the custom in the scientific prizes," said Lars Bergstroem, secretary of the committee for the Nobel physics prize.

"The Nobel Peace Prize has often been awarded to organisations. But in the science prizes we have tried to find the most prizeworthy individuals."

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JoeBlue
1.7 / 5 (20) Oct 07, 2012
"take a gamble"

That is exactly why the Nobel prizes are essentially worthless and more political than anything.
BikeToAustralia
2.9 / 5 (7) Oct 07, 2012
Suggestion: create an organization, every participant in the discovery becomes a member, including Robert Brout. The prize is awarded to the organization. Share the glory (and hold hands when you cross the street).

Recognition IS political. Discovery of the defining particle is more important than recognition.
Sonhouse
2.9 / 5 (13) Oct 07, 2012
"take a gamble"

That is exactly why the Nobel prizes are essentially worthless and more political than anything.

Grousing because you are not Nobel prize material. I think they call that jealousy.
Lurker2358
1.9 / 5 (11) Oct 07, 2012
Which is the greater individual feat?

Prediction of a particle and it's properties...

or

Participation in finding that particle among thousands.

Obviously the Nobel goes to the theorist, look at Relativity.

Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel, even though astronomers were the ones who discovered the evidence supporting the General Relativity theory.
Squirrel
2 / 5 (8) Oct 07, 2012
The British Queen and the UK government have declined in their wisdom to award Peter Ware Higgs any major honour (Sir, Lord, CH, OM) so why should a bunch of scientists in Sweden do differently?
Noumenon
3.6 / 5 (14) Oct 07, 2012
They should never award it to an organization, as this would dilute and devalue the award granting it to hundreds.

It should always be awared to those theoreticians who developed the core idea,.. or to an experimentalist that was a driving force behind a new discovery. In this case since it was predicted it should not go to such a experimentalist.

Since its such a fundamental discovery, award it to P.Higgs this year, and then to the other theoreticians (1960's) upon further verification next year.

@ Lurker, remarkably Einstein never received a Nobel prize for relativity,... it was for the explanation of the 'photo-electric effect', by proposing the notion of a photon, though he didn't coin that word. He should have received another one for GR long before he died.
ValeriaT
1.3 / 5 (16) Oct 07, 2012
Actually whole the discussion about Nobel prize in connection to Higgs boson (or whatever else this resonance is) is conceptual nonsense. All discussions about Nobel price in connection to Higgs and similar guys should be closed, because they do violate the whole spirit and meaning of the Nobel prize. Alfred Nobel was a solely practical men, who supported the humanity and technical progress - not formal math and bunch of parasites, who are developing abstract and useless theories. He explicitly wrote in his testament, that the Nobel price must be used for findings of practical significance and apparent usefulness for human civilization. I'm sure, Mr. Nobel would support the cold fusion finding heartily and he would fire immediately the members of Nobel prize committee, who violated his rule many times in history. If theorists want to have their own prize, they should collect money for it from similar cheaters, like the Yuri Milner.
A2G
1 / 5 (6) Oct 07, 2012
Squirrel wrote,

The British Queen and the UK government have declined in their wisdom to award Peter Ware Higgs any major honour

They were too busy trying to keep the royal? family's name out of the crapper with prince? andrew hanging out with sex traffickers like jeffrey esptein.
tomas_kojar
3 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2012
Awards like the Nobel prize are useful because in essence they serve as a reminder of what we value;of what we as society want to see from its members.If we wanted more killers we will celebrate killing like they celebrated warriors back in the day.Now only people ignorant of the connection between theory and applications would say that theoretical discoveries of how nature behaves should not receive awards.Theory has always been the driver of applications and vice-versa.
sirchick
5 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2012
If it wasn't for Peter Higg's proposing the idea, would half of these things come around - its hard to be sure but as that is the case here, surely he should get the prize.

Of course it may not be the Higgs as stated in the article but he should get one if it turns out that it is.
Bowler_4007
2 / 5 (5) Oct 07, 2012
Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel, even though astronomers were the ones who discovered the evidence supporting the General Relativity theory.
Einstein has most definitely earned his place in scientific history he deserved a Nobel Prize and more for his brilliant work, if he didn't publish his theories and instead took them to his grave then the astronomers would have had little to go on until the next great mind came along to help
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2012
a lot of people don't seem think theories deserve the Nobel Prize, so are you suggesting science continue purely through experimentation?

face facts, a theory that suggests something and experimental evidence to support it, are both equally important in science.

if we had purely experimental data how do we test what it means an where it fits?

if we have a theory with no experimental data how do we know its not just nonesense that doesn't fit in with existance?
jsdarkdestruction
4.6 / 5 (11) Oct 07, 2012
zephyer, shut the fuck up. no one wants to hear your worthless rants about cold fusion. this is something beyond your understanding as usual. leave the scientists alone and go back into that version of reality that exists only in your head.
Nikstlitselpmur
1 / 5 (10) Oct 07, 2012
Temperature is what gives particles mass, at 0k particles lose their individual identity, and at temperatures above 10-32 kelvin particles collapse into a blackhole where particles lose their individual identity,a revolving process. The entire universe exists between those two temperatures.
Kron
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 07, 2012
AWT says, math is a requirement for calculation of waves at the water surface. AWT states that understanding of math is a must for anyone concerning themselves with the physical world. For instance, at the water surface, the wave frequency is equal to velocity divided by wavelength. From this follows, in a dense particle environment, the density is defined by mass per volume. AWT defines the Zephyrus dense neural mass as the westerly breeze of the exciton interaction with the connecton in the specific relaton and all else as emergeton phenomenon.
rwinners
2 / 5 (4) Oct 07, 2012
Hey, but what if the new thingy turns our to just be a 'my little sister' particle?
vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (12) Oct 07, 2012
Named after British physicist Peter Higgs, the boson is a key to our concept of matter, as it could explain why particles have mass. Without the Higgs, the Universe as we know it would simply not exist, according to the theory.
"This is the physics version of the discovery of DNA," …

By the way, it is often said that finding Higgs pave the way to NEW PHYSICS, but physics of what? It seems to be physics of Higgs (field) in which it is something looks like the old aether! Below, we could make an indirect prove of the aether, while now LHC could make a direct prove of it.
http://www.vacuum...=9〈=en
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (8) Oct 07, 2012
The finding of Higgs boson was predicted with fifty years - so it can hardly pave the way to some really new physics, until you insist its really the boson predicted with Higgs.. The connection of Higgs model to particle model of reality is speculative. Higgs model is solely formal and no distinct prediction of mass of Higgs boson follows from it. AWT predicts different behavior for Higgs boson, analogous to dark matter geometry at quantum scale.
dabbler
1.3 / 5 (6) Oct 08, 2012
Nobel prize is about as significant as the prize in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Especially since they handed them out to the likes of that imbecile Obama and that moron Al Gore Jr. All we need now is for them to finish sullying the Mathematics and Sciences prizes portions for the Nobel Prize and honor system to become about as important as the circus coming to town.
I doubt that Higgs really gives a flying rat's rectum about the Nobel to begin with... The greatest satisfaction in science or research is not a cash prize. It is public acceptance and acknowledgement of a hypothesis or theory as built on solid and accurate science. Also getting oh so tired of the "God Particle" moniker crap. Higgs himself the thing was a "GD" particle as in an exclamatory or expletive sense in that it had been so elusive both in theoretical conception and any substantiating evidence.... The nickname born out of exasperation and frustration sure has been convoluted into utter stupidity and rhetoric.
dabbler
2 / 5 (4) Oct 08, 2012
When will the nit-witted media groups grow up and quit cashing in on the sensationalism angle of trying to tie it - Higgs' boson type particles- to some religious significance nonsense?
max7331
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 08, 2012
"Nobel prize is about as significant as the prize in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Especially since they handed them out to the likes of that imbecile Obama and that moron Al Gore Jr. All we need now is for them to finish sullying the Mathematics and Sciences prizes portions for the Nobel Prize and honor system to become about as important as the circus coming to town.

I couldn't agree with you more Dabbler, the fact that the Nobel Laureates decided to hand out an award because someone is black and the leader of the mighty U.S. makes me physically sick to my stomach, to hell with the Nobel awards. Congrats to all the scientists who contributed to this supposed discovery.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Oct 08, 2012
They should never award it to an organization, as this would dilute and devalue the award granting it to hundreds.

While I generally agree the reality is that science (especially the kind that pushes frontiers) is no longer performed by individuals but by large groups.

One reason is that subjects have become so complex that no one person can really fathom all of it. Another (rather heartening one) is that it is nowadays much easier to collaborate with scientist around the world than it was 50 years ago thanks to the internet.

But in the case of the Higgs I do think he (and the couple of other guys who co-invented the theory) should get it.
cdkeli
2.2 / 5 (5) Oct 08, 2012
This is just silly - they are obligated to wait for incontrovertable confirmation.
johanfprins
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 08, 2012
There is no proof whatsoever that the excitation announced on the 4th July IS reponsible for giving so-called particles their mass. Only after the latter has been by doing an experiment that is able to falsify this claim can the Nobel Prize be awarded. ALL they have at present is a high-energy excitation which could act as anhything from a rabbit to an elephant.
ant_oacute_nio354
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 08, 2012
The Higgs doesn't exist because the mass is the electric dipole moment.
Blakut
5 / 5 (2) Oct 08, 2012
max7331 "...nobel laureates decided to..." you're using that word, i don't think it means what you think it means.
Kron
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 08, 2012
So, they are still unsure of whether what they have found is the God particle. What is the next step in confirming God's existence?

Once the existence of God is confirmed, the Nobel should be given to the church. If it weren't for the church, children wouldn't know how the matterial world came to be. They are the ones that believed all along, even when no proof existed.

Does anyone disagree with the Nobel prize for the God particle discovery going to the church?
Nikstlitselpmur
1 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2012
Imagine if they had given Einstein a Nobel for Lambda.
Blakut
not rated yet Oct 09, 2012
Dilemma over. Time to move on.
TransmissionDump
1 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2012
Kron: I disagree.
sirchick
not rated yet Oct 14, 2012
So, they are still unsure of whether what they have found is the God particle. What is the next step in confirming God's existence?

Once the existence of God is confirmed, the Nobel should be given to the church. If it weren't for the church, children wouldn't know how the material world came to be. They are the ones that believed all along, even when no proof existed.

Does anyone disagree with the Nobel prize for the God particle discovery going to the church?


God / Religion has NOTHING to do with the Higgs boson. Its very extortionate that the "God Particle" was even used in the media. Science communities only ever use the Higgs Boson. Or just "The Higgs" is also commonly used.

Bringing religion in to this conversation is saying a banana has some significances to a "god". There is nothing to do with god in either a banana or a Higgs boson...thats how unrelated they are :)