Higgs boson: So who is getting the Nobel?
The discovery of a particle thought to be the elusive Higgs boson has prompted a new investigation: Whose names will be engraved on the Nobel Prize in Physics medal?
There's the science, and then there's the glitter. As researchers celebrate the best-yet evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, some are already thinking about who's going to get the Nobel Prize in physics for the seminal discovery.Skip to next paragraph
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Stephen Hawking told the BBC that he thinks Peter Higgs, who first theorized about the particle, should get the prize. But the award can go to as many as three people and even to groups, though the science Nobel committees haven't yet seen a need to recognize groups, says Sven Lidin, chairman of the Nobel committee in chemistry. So who else may share the podium with Higgs?
The talk around the physics prize for the Higgs boson is especially hot because so many people were involved in the research teams that worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Modern physics is bigger than ever.
The great majority of research performed since the 1940s has been conducted by teams of people working in laboratory groups, said Tom Broman, a historian of science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
"The problem of making awards to individuals has been exacerbated, but by no means created, by the scaling up of research projects," Broman said in an email.
Nowhere is scientific teamwork more evident than in physics. Many physics experiments today use instruments that cost millions or billions to build, such as the Hubble Space Telescope or the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. These complex instruments require many scientists to run them, to analyze data from them, and to share them, as no small group could afford to build a space telescope just for itself. So when something exciting comes out of those instruments, there are many people who contributed to the discovery.
CERN announced "strong indications for the presence of a new particle, which could be the Higgs boson" on Wednesday (July 4). The existence of the Higgs boson would lend crucial support for the Standard Model, a major physics theory about how matter in the universe works.