If recent news serves as indication, perhaps the most prestigious award in the world has lost some of its glitz. Reclusive physicist Peter Higgs could not be reached by the Nobel Prize committee this past Tuesday, October 8, 2013 to receive confirmation of the “prize of one’s life,” because he didn’t wait by the phone. More accurately, Professor Higgs doesn’t actually own a cell-phone, and had to be hailed down as he left a nondescript corner restaurant after a pedestrian meal of wine and soup.
Who can blame the savior of the Standard Model, after all? It’s been over half a century since he, along with his Nobel Prize in Physics co-winner François Englert (and a handful of other important contributors, who were regretfully excluded from sharing in the Nobel Prize in Physics due to stipulations set by Alfred Nobel, himself) posited the necessity of a Higgs boson to explain the great variation in the masses of the particles in our universe.
The news from the Nobel Prize in Physics committee was delivered second-hand by a former neighbor of Dr. Higgs, who was called and informed of the endowment by the physicist’s daughter. The ex-neighbor apparently knew of Higgs’ whereabouts and flagged him down from her car, congratulating him on the news. “What news?” was his surprised response; whereupon she informed him of how she came by the information. Higgs admitted his previous doubts that such recognition would ever come. “I never thought the experimental verification of the Higgs particle would come in my lifetime. Obviously, I’m delighted and rather relieved in a sense that it’s all over. It has been a long time coming.”
The discovery of the Higgs particle signals a sort of “icing-on-the-cake” for all the heretofore confirmed predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes the interactions between all the types of particles in the universe. By extension, this means that the way we describe the electroweak force, the strong force, supersymmetric particles and a host of other derivations, is as correct as we assumed they were.
Perhaps most importantly for the future of physics research, the tireless efforts of the scientists that worked to extract the Higgs particle data from the endless results of the Large Hadron Collider has undoubtedly validated the existence of the $6 billion machine, which smashes particles together at extremely high speeds and analyzes the debris.