GENEVA–Scientists at the lab which discovered the “God particle” popped champagne Tuesday, ecstatic over the Nobel Physics Prize award for its theoreticians Peter Higgs and Francois Englert. Scores of staff at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) massed to watch the announcement by the Nobel jury on a live feed, erupting into applause as the two physicists’ names were read out.
After heaping praise upon Britain’s Higgs and Belgium’s Englert, Rolf Heuer, head of the lab which straddles the French and Swiss borders on the outskirts of Geneva, raised a glass to the crowd assembled in CERN’s cafeteria. “It’s your work that allowed the Nobel Academy to give this prize. You should give some applause to you guys,” he said, beaming. “I’m really proud of you guys.”
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) last year flushed out the elusive particle by crashing proton beams together to create snapshots of the Big Bang. CERN’s experiments involved over 3,000 people from around the world. The team members included John Paul Chou, a professor of particle physics from Rutgers University in the United States, who has been undertaking research at CERN for the past five years. “It’s a great day,” 33-year-old Chou told AFP, as he brandished two bottles of champagne. “The prize goes to two people, but at the same time it’s a recognition of physics done by dozens of others. Hundreds, and even thousands of people worked together to make this happen. So in a sense we all share in this prize. I’m stuck for words to express the significance of it.”