Nobel physics laureate Higgs 'overwhelmed'
British scientist Peter Higgs today said he was "overwhelmed" after he and his Belgian colleague Francois Englert won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the 'God particle' that explains why mass exists.
"I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy," a statement released by Edinburgh University, where he is emeritus professor of theoretical physics, quoted 84-year-old Higgs as saying.
"I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle and to thank my family, friends and colleagues for their support. I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research," said Higgs, best known as the theoretical physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson.
The pair, who were tipped to win the USD 1.25 million prize, were honoured for "the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of sub-atomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle," the jury said.
In 1964, the duo proposed the theory of how particles acquire mass independently of each other. In 2012, their ideas were confirmed by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland.
Englert, 80, is emeritus professor at Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.
Englert said he was "very happy to have received the prize".
ULB is extremely pleased and proud of the award of this Nobel Prize - the first Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to a Belgian, the university said on its website.
Principal of the University of Edinburgh Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea congratulated Higgs on the achievement and said the institution was "delighted" at the news.
"The discovery of the Higgs particle will underpin the next generation of physics research, and this accolade is worthy recognition of its significance. Professor Higgs' work will continue to inspire scientists at Edinburgh and beyond," he said.
Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) the Big Bang particle accelerator at the CERN, which recreates conditions a billionth of a second after the birth of the universe - declared last July they had discovered the particle, which lends mass to matter and holds the universe together, after a decades-long search.
Britain's David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said "our new Nobel Laureate thoroughly deserves his prize".
"I congratulate Professor Peter Higgs on his Nobel Prize. This is the 23rd Nobel Prize for Physics to come to the UK and continues a long tradition of scientific discovery," he said.