About 50 years since their initial research took place, Peter Higgs and Belgian physicist Francois Englert have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their theory of the existence of the Higgs boson.
Higgs’s eponymous particle was thought to explain many fundamental secrets of quantum physics when it was dreamed up, but in the decades since that moment it proved extraordinarily elusive. Billions of dollars have been spent looking for telltale evidence of the Higgs particle, which has earned the misleading and overly emotive nickname of the “god particle,” culminating in the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. The LHC is an enormous supercollider that has now, at last, proven that the Higgs particle exists (possibly many Higgs particles, even). The discovery prompted Stephen Hawking to suggest that it’s about time Higgs was rewarded with the Nobel Prize, because finding the Higgs particle lends an enormous amount of support to our theories about the present and early universe.
Higgs himself is, rather wonderfully, proving just as elusive for the Nobel Prize committee, which is said to have tried reaching him on all the phone numbers they have for him, but to no avail. They’ve emailed him about the news instead. According to some reports on Twitter from a colleague in Edinburgh, Higgs, 84, is on holiday “without a phone.” Higgs instead issued a statement through Edinburgh University simply stating that he was “overwhelmed to receive this award,” and noted he hoped it would “help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.”