The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to theorists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert to recognize their work in developing the theory of what is now known as the Higgs field, which gives elementary particles mass. University of Virginia scientists played a significant role in advancing the theory and in discovering the particle that proves the existence of the Higgs field – the Higgs boson.
Brad Cox, a professor of physics in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences, served for three years on a sequence of eight analysis review committees composed of four physicists each that oversaw analysis of Higgs data from the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. Cox was among a small team that poured over the data for months and determined that the evidence was extremely strong that the Higgs particle had been confirmed. The discovery was announced at the Large Hadron Collider in July 2012 and further supported in December.
U.Va. scientists also were involved for years in the planning of the experiments at the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, which was activated in November 2009 after nearly two decades of planning and construction. Cox and other members of the U.Va. High Energy Physics Group also built components for particle detectors on the collider.
“This is a great day for particle physics,” Cox said of the announcement that Higgs and Englert had won the Nobel Prize. He called it “one of the major findings in physics in half a century.”
For insight to the process of the Higgs discovery and the role of the University of Virginia, reporters can reach Brad Cox today at 434-284-2860 or 434-982-5377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.