Posts Tagged ‘Peter Higgs’

Heated dispute within Nobel Committee delayed the Physics prize

October 9, 2013

I observed yesterday that the delay in awarding the Nobel prize in Physics could have been due to some committee members wanting to award the prize also to CERN. That supposition seems to have been correct. The PR apparatus of the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN is responsible for a lot of hype based on a somewhat inflated opinion of the organisation. They have been lobbying hard for over a year for the Physics Nobel. The PR and lobbying by CERN had clearly got to at least one member of the award committee (Anders Bárány). His view was rejected and he is now complaining that the award was “unfair”

And despite all the PR spin and all the hype they have not yet found the Higgs particle. And there are more questions left to be answered than ever before.

Big Science hype to keep Big Science funding going arouses my suspicions. For an organisation like ATLAS or CMS or CERN to have been named would have been a travesty. Almost at the level of naming the EU or the IPCC for a Peace Prize.

Fortunately good sense prevailed and the Physics prize still maintains some brand value – which the Peace Prize has lost.

Svenska Dagbladet reports (my free translation):

There was a major altercation between the members that postponed yesterday’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics was postponed by over an hour according to Vetenskapsradion . Before the vote, several members questioned why no part of the award was for the two laboratories which had detected the Higgs particle.

One of those objecting was Mr Anders Bárány who wanted more than just theorists  Peter Higgs and Francois Englert to be rewarded  rather than the two research teams , ATLAS and CMS being merely mentioned in the Academy of Sciences press release.

“I think it is extremely unfair. It is the first time that the explanatory text has made such a mention. I do not think they should be happy with it “, he said to Vetenskapsradion.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert  were praised for their discoveries about the Higgs particle – but other heavyweight Higgs scientists, Carl Hagen, Gerald Guralnik and Tom Kibble were excluded. Their names had been mentioned in preliminary discussions on the physics prize, because they are considered to have made ​​significant finds around the particle around the same time as Higgs and Englert.

Carl Hagen, admitted yesterday that he was disappointed at the Academy’s decision. “The wind went out of me, of course, a little bit because the Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to stick with their old rule of three winners. It is not a true picture of how things are , but I congratulate Higgs and Englert , they must be very pleased”, Hagen said to TT.

Physics Nobel today – Higgs? but (hopefully) not CERN! Update – awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

October 8, 2013


There is more speculation doing the rounds as to why the awards were delayed by one hour.

There are some suggestions that this time was used to kill the ridiculous notion of having CERN – the organisation – as the third award winner! If that was the reason then it was time well spent!

The deliberations of the awards committee will not be released for 50 years.



The Physics Nobel award has been awarded to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs

NO CERN thankfully.


  • 106 Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded between 1901-2012.
  • 47 Physics Prizes have been given to one Laureate only.
  • women have been awarded the Physics Prize so far.
  • person, John Bardeen, has been awarded the Physics Prize twice.
  • 25 years was the age of the youngest Physics Laureate ever, Lawrence Bragg, when he was awarded the 1915 Physics Prize together with his father.
  • 55 is the average age of the Physics Laureates the year they were awarded the prize.


The speculation this morning on Swedish Radio is that the Higgs Boson will be recognised. There was some speculation that Higgs himself could lose out but that CERN – as an organisation – could be a winner. I hope not. The Radio commentators all seem to have the impression that the Higgs particle was discovered by CERN last year. But my understanding is that nothing was actually found. Something – not inconsistent with a Higgs particle – was indicated and the Higgs particle was “tentatively confirmed to exist on 14 March 2013” (though “tentative” and “confirmation” is a contradiction in terms).

In any event, I think the Nobel should stick to individuals and not go the way of the discredited Peace Prize and name an organisation like CERN. Professor Higgs would be acceptable even though it would be preferable to wait – but not CERN.

We shall see. (The announcement is due in about 3 hours).

Thomson Reuters predictions:


François Englert and Peter W. Higgs
For their prediction of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson

Hideo Hosono
For his discovery of iron-based superconductors

Geoffrey W. Marcy and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz
For their discoveries of extrasolar planets

%d bloggers like this: