Skip to main content

Physics Nobel awarded for Higgs particle; UW played key role in research

October 8, 2013 By Jill Sakai

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013 was awarded Oct. 8 to two theoretical physicists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, who nearly 50 years ago independently predicted the existence of a new particle central to the process by which matter has mass.

UW–Madison teams led by physicists Sau Lan Wu and Wesley Smith have played crucial roles in the development and operation of the two main experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that discovered this long-awaited particle, now called the Higgs boson, in July 2012.

The intensive data analysis needed to find the elusive particle and being used for ongoing analysis at the LHC relies on high-throughput computing resources through the Open Science Grid, led by UW computer scientist Miron Livny and based on principles Livny pioneered at UW–Madison through his Condor project.

Though the prize was awarded only to theoreticians, the recognition of the importance of the Higgs particle also honors the efforts of the thousands of scientists and engineers involved in the discovery.