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Press Release

US Scientists Celebrate Nobel Prize for Higgs Discovery

Oct 8, 2013 - 7:56:30 AM

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The following news release about a Nobel Prize related to the Higgs boson discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on behalf of  the U.S. LHC organization.

October 8, 2013 -
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to theorists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert to recognize their work developing the theory of what is now known as the Higgs field, which gives elementary particles mass. U.S. scientists played a significant role in advancing the theory and in discovering the particle that proves the existence of the Higgs field, the Higgs boson.

In the 1960s, Higgs and Englert, along with other theorists, including Robert Brout, Tom Kibble, and Americans Carl Hagen and Gerald Guralnik, published papers introducing key concepts in the theory of the Higgs field. In 2012, scientists on the international ATLAS and CMS experiments, performed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN laboratory in Europe, confirmed this theory when they announced the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Nearly 2000 physicists from U.S. institutions—including 89 U.S. universities and seven U.S. Department of Energy laboratories—participate in the ATLAS and CMS experiments, making up about 23 percent of the ATLAS collaboration and 33 percent of CMS at the time of the Higgs discovery. Brookhaven National Laboratory serves as the U.S. hub for the ATLAS experiment, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory serves as the U.S. hub for the CMS experiment. U.S. scientists provided a significant portion of the intellectual leadership on Higgs analysis teams for both experiments.

“It is an honor that the Nobel Committee recognizes these theorists for their role in predicting what is one of the biggest discoveries in particle physics in the last few decades,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “I congratulate the whole particle physics community for this achievement.”

The majority of U.S. scientists participating in LHC experiments work primarily from their home institutions, remotely accessing and analyzing data through high-capacity networks and grid computing. The United States plays an important role in this distributed computing system, providing 23 percent of the computing power for ATLAS and 40 percent for CMS. The United States also supplied or played a leading role in several main components of the two detectors and the LHC accelerator, amounting to a value of  $164 million for the ATLAS detector,  $167 million for the CMS detector, and $200 million for the LHC.  Support for the U.S. effort comes from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

"It’s wonderful to see a 50-year-old theory confirmed after decades of hard work and remarkable ingenuity," said Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Doon Gibbs. "The U.S. has played a key role, contributing scientific and technical expertise along with essential computing and data analysis capabilities—all of which were necessary to bring the Higgs out of hiding. It’s a privilege to share in the success of an experiment that has changed the face of science."

The discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN was the culmination of decades of effort by physicists and engineers around the world, at the LHC but also at other accelerators such as the Tevatron accelerator, located at Fermilab, and the Large Electron Positron accelerator, which once inhabited the tunnel where the LHC resides. Work by scientists at the Tevatron and LEP developed search techniques and eliminated a significant fraction of the space in which the Higgs boson could hide.

The prize was announced this morning at 6:45 a.m. EDT.

One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at and follow us on Twitter at @FermilabToday.

Related Links:
Official press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stony Brook University
High Energy Physics Group & Higgs Boson

The High Energy Physics Group at Stony Brook University has been involved in research and discovery of the Higgs boson for 30 years. Upon learning that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to theorists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert to recognize their work developing the theory of what is now known as the Higgs field, the SBU High Energy Physics Group prepared a statement that touches upon its contributions to Higgs boson now and over time.

On July 4, 2012, physicists from the ATLAS and CMS experiment teams using the LHC accelerator at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland announced discovery of a new particle with characteristics of the long sought after Higgs boson. This discovery and subsequent measurements were the culmination of a decades-long quest to understand how mass arises.

The Stony Brook University high energy physics group members, Profs. Roderich Engelmann, John Hobbs, Robert McCarthy, Michael Rijssenbeek, Robert Dean Schamberger and Dmitri Tsybychev, along with their graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, carry out research with the ATLAS experiment team. The group made a number of contributions to the Higgs discovery and ongoing follow up studies. The group was responsible for design and construction of electronics needed for the measurements of the Higgs boson decays to electrons and photons. These measurements formed the main evidence in the 2012 discovery analyses. The group also led the effort to calibrate the measured masses in these decays.

Our group leads ongoing studies of the Higgs boson, in particular analyzing additional Higgs boson reactions which must occur if the standard theory is correct.  We are beginning participation in analysis searching for other reactions which may occur if the standard theory is incomplete.

The section of the ATLAS apparatus which measures electron and photon energies is a modernized version of the apparatus used in the D0 experiment at Fermilab. D0 was led for 13 years by Stony Brook University Distinguished Research Prof. Paul D. Grannis including the period during which another fundamental particle, the top quark was discovered, and members of our group held leadership roles in D0 for 30 years.  Analysis of D0 data, along with that of its sister experiment CDF, established initial evidence for the Higgs boson prior to the ATLAS and CMS discovery announcements.

Editor’s Note: The D0 experiment stopped taking data in 2011 when the Fermilab Tevatron accelerator was shut down.

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at Stony Brook University offers a diverse program and consistently ranks amongst the best and largest in the country. In their latest departmental rankings (2010), The US News and World listed the department as 23rd in the nation out of 145 programs in the United States; with the Nuclear Physics program ranked 4th. The 2010 NRC ranking which is the most prestigious ranking in the US, ranks the Graduate School among the top 15 programs in the country. The department shares faculty with the CN Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, a leading center for high energy physics, string theory and statistical mechanics; the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, a research center devoted to furthering fundamental knowledge in geometry and theoretical physics, especially knowledge at the interface of these two disciplines; and the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology, with an aim to advance biology and medicine through discoveries in physics, mathematics and computational science. Current and past faculty members have received numerous top honors in the field, including the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science, Niels Bohr Institute Prize, Dirac Prize, CAREER Awards, Humboldt Awards, PECASE Awards, Asahi Prize, Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, Guggenheim, Sloan, AAAS, IEEE, American Physical Society and Royal Danish Academy Fellowships, and more.  

© Stony Brook University 2013

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