Who will/should get the Nobel Prize for the Higgs Boson

With the discovery of the Higgs Boson now in the bag it seems inevitable that someone will be getting a Nobel prize for it but who? There may even be two prizes, one for the theory and one for the experiment, but I think it more likely that only one prize will be awarded. Peter Higgs and François Englert seem dead certs but the committee can choose up to three living physicists. Will there be a third man and if so who? If you want a reminder of the history my earlier chronology of contributions may help.

The physics prize can only be given to living indivduals (unlike the peace prize which can be given to an organisation) so if they want to honour CERN they will have to give it to an individual representative.

So let’s have a poll. Actually let’s make it two. Assuming that I am correct about the first two laureates who else do you think should get the prize because they deserve it, and who else do you predict will get it.

By the way I don’t think that the prize will be awarded this year because nominations needed to be in by the 1st January, unless some nominations were made based on evidence from last year.

Update: After a day of voting the clear leaders after “no thrid person” are Anderson, Evans, Goldstone and Kibble.  Any of these would be a worthy winner and it is just unfortunate that the others (including Kibbles collaborators) would be overlooked. I don’t think the rule of three will be changed but you have to wonder what will happen when a collaboration of four make a ground breaking discovery.

It is not unlikely that a separate prize will be given for the experiments. I sense that CERN are promoting Lyn Evans as the one who lead the LHC especially as he has now come back to take on the difficult task of leading the ILC project. In this case people will argue about whether the Tevatron also deserves recognition for their contribution. That will be another difficult question that could be conveniently dodged by splitting a prize across the discovery of top and the Higgs . The theory prize for the top prediction was given in 2008 to Kobayashi and Maskawa.

There were some suggestions for others as follows:

  • Peter Higgs – someone did not read the text
  • Phil Gibbs – you are too kind, LOL
  • any of a number of passed over theorists
  • Eridtoto – who?
  • Al Gore – I didn’t know he read this blog
  • Jesus – if this is a God particle joke Moses would have been marginally less lame
  • me – Al, you can only vote once.

39 Responses to Who will/should get the Nobel Prize for the Higgs Boson

  1. Andrew Beckwith says:

    You are not going to like what I have to say, but I will say it. They did NOT discover the HIGGS. In actuality what they found is even more impressive than the Higgs itself. They discovered the foundations of space time geometry. Once again, look at the entire situation. The discovery is even more important than you think. I have been in conversations with people as to this issue non stop. But for GODS sake, stop calling it the HIGGS. It is an even more foundational discovery in its own right than the Higgs particle.

    • Dilaton says:

      … LOL 😀
      What else should it exactly be then in your opinion ?

    • G Srinivasan says:

      Yes . They have hit the fundamental matter density in space (GR was looking for it) and using the axiomatic foundation of Sankhya it shows that 127..9 GEV was the maximum they could have struck indicaing the 3.6 E minus 25 kg as the space density at its max expanded state. See http://s1.webstarts.com/Sankhyakarika/index.html
      for its derivation

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      I knew someone was going to say that, but I can’t accept the likelihood that the Higgs boson is not findable in the direct search but something else that looks very similar is there instead.

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        I agree: CERN found the mass of the Higgs system not the Higgs itself..
        Space-time could be discovered if we accept that the double amount of expected photons is related to a new double linear oscillating massless Higgs twin particle.
        The oscillating frequency is the base of Time and the oscillating length is the base for the Planck Length and the energy of the system should be responsible for the MASS (125 GeV) of the system

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        So, I would suggest that the LHC found the basic energy 125 GeV being the so called DARK energy of the vacuum.

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        “The beginning of the end of the standard model ”
        NewScientist: 11 july 2012 about deviant decays.

        “Many of my colleagues and I think that this discovery on Wednesday may mark the beginning of the end of the standard model,” says Georg Weiglein of the German Electron Synchotron research centre (DESY) in Hamburg. “Maybe these little deviations from the standard model really build up to a significant deviation. Maybe once we make this more precise with more data we will see that this is not the standard-model Higgs.”

      • rufousbettong says:

        I’d like to make a comment on Leo’s remark.
        In the SM, all parameters you feed in are dimensionless except for the “v” in the Higgs potential. The coupling constants are dimensionless, the “lambda” in Higgs potential also, and all fermion masses come from dimensionless couplings.
        So the only dimension comes from v, the vacuum expectation of the Higgs field (which is 246 GeV, or 174 if you divide by the square root of 2). The 125 GeV value gives the value of “lambda”. It does not give any scale of anything. The only scale comes from v.

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        To Rufousbettong,
        So you also see that the “v” of the oscillating tandem-twin Higgs system could be the origin of the 125 GeV.energy/mass.
        Mechanistic particle transformation.
        THE RING SHAPED Higgs Particles coded(OOO) are supposed to oscillate in Tandem along so called linear Vacuum Lattices, two by two in opposite directions, as the symmetrical opposite pistons of a boxer engine, as the origin of all energy, spin and mass effects.
        This enables the Tandem Higgs Particles (doublets) to change the form of their own Torus into an Electron and Positron pair at the same time and to originate all other oscillations and interactions, as d s and c b .
        “LHC signals between 121-130 GeV interpreted with non Standard Model
        Quantum-FFF theory.”

      • Philip Gibbs says:

        The parameters of the standard model could be specified by 20 dimensionless constants and any one value with dimensions of energy. It could be the electron mass, a quark mass, the Higgs mass or anything else you like. It is just an arbitrary choice of convention.

      • Leo Vuyk says:

        Thank you Phil.
        I did not know that phenomenon.
        Do you think this could also point into alternative SM directions?

    • Ervin Goldfain says:


      What you say may be true in some sense. But the evidence we have today seems to disfavor any resonance that does not look like the SM Higgs, see below:




    • Bruce Blackshaw says:

      Well that’s a different take on complaining about people calling it the God particle I suppose.

  2. G Srinivasan says:

    The Nobel should go to Prof Antonio Ereditato for he did discover that Neutrinos MUS travel faster than light and that is correct because the seven colour spectrums of Neutrinos create the photon as Neutrino is 9.5E minus 35 kg and planck constant quantum is 6,63 E -34 kg or 7 times. But he was kicked out to protect the old guards backsides

  3. Lucian says:

    My bet is on CERN and probably Rolf Heuer: Nobel peace prize for collaborative work at the forefront of science uniting scientist from 56(?) countries.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      I like your thinking

      • Lubos Motl says:

        I can’t believe someone may “like” this scary garbage. What Lucian is describing is international bureaucracy. There is nothing scientifically good about CERN’s being composed of people from many nations. If those discoveries were made by the French and Swiss people only and they would produce the same results, which they easily could, it would be exactly as good and laudable for science.

        Moreover, even if you found this UN-like global bureaucratization of science to be a good thing, it’s not really Heuer’s work.

        This politically loaded garbage and bogus sociological justifications of prizes have absolutely no room in physics and both Lucian and Phil should be ashamed for this suggestion.

      • Lubos, note they were not suggesting a science prize.

      • Lucian says:


        take a moment and look at the history of prizes.

        Collaborations cannot get the prize. They should handpick a few people and glue some technical development to the discovery. I do not think that there is any revolutionary development at LHC that was not present at previous accelerators.

        NPP (Nobel Peace Prize) was given many times for organizations and if you look how the prizes are given is the organization and the director/president of the organization at the time of awarding. So there is no meaning in what you say that Heuer’s work is/isn’t awarded, he is just the director at the moment of the award.

        For the scientific prize no more that 3 people can get the prize. No matter how the prize is split someone will be left out.

        And btw by no means I am ashamed by my suggestion. What I find scary is your reaction.

      • Lubos Motl says:

        It would be extremely insulting for physics – and for the most powerful experimental physics lab in this world – to receive a discredited prize that was generously distributed among the likes of Yasir Arafat, Al Gore, Barack Obama, and many similar people. The fact that this prize has nothing to do with the passion for the scientific truth is already bad enough; the fact that it’s discredited even as a prize for people promoting peace makes it even worse.

        I would be personally ashamed if someone gave me the Nobel peace prize and I would instantly sue the committee for libel if that happened.

    • Ulla says:

      Cern, Tevatron and Peter Higgs are the natural ones. Collaborations can get the Nobel too, I think.

      Nobel is no scientific thing, it is social. Like it or not. It is above all about prestige. Many Nobels have gone to wrong persons. And to talk of Nobel now, before we even know WHAT has been discovered is a bit ridiculous.

      Many Nobelists are ridiculed as crackpots in spite of their Nobel, remember.

      • Philip Gibbs says:

        They can’t give it to a collaboration. In the past they have given it to the leader of large collaborations.

        There are no absolyte proofs but there is very little doubt that what has been discovered is the Higgs boson. I.e the particle of the field that is responsible for EW symmetry breaking. It may not be exactly the standard model version but that should not affect the prize. Just to successfully predict a particle with the properties it is already known to have is sufficient justifaction for the prize.

  4. Dilaton says:

    … Alexander Polyakov 😀 ?

    What did he do for the higgs? I know only some of his other actions … 😛

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      Apparently he made an independent discovery on the mechanism along with Alexander Migdal but it was rejected by a journal and not published until 1966

  5. cormac says:

    I have a better idea. This is an opportunity for us bloggers to do something useful for a change. It is clear that the discovery of a Higgs-like particle merits a top prize for both experimentalists and theoreticians, so let’s get a campaign started to get some pressure on to revisit the Noble rules. I think one year’s prize should go to the five theorists you all know about, and the next year’s prize to the ATLAS and CMS teams

  6. Wilbur55 says:

    Rudi CERNe, former figure-skating champion of Germany.

  7. phil says:

    Higgs, Englert and the rest must have been nominated many times over the years, and the Nobel committee probably has reams of reports already on the history of the discovery. If they want to make a theory award this year (and I think they should, since none of the originators are young men any more) I doubt the nomination deadline is a problem.

  8. KB says:

    To put in this list Anderson is already a joke! This guy was almost responsible for the SSC canceling. He was so short myopic !

  9. Peter Higgsinho, Brazil says:

    Antonio Ereditato for proving neutrinos being faster than speed of light

  10. Joel Rice says:

    I did see a comment on Peter Woit’s blog with a link to arXiv: 0912.0208 which used a renormalization flow argument to predict a Higgs at 126 Gev, 2 years ago. Hmmmmmmm. They said “In conclusion, we discussed the possibility that the SM, supplemented by the asymptotically safe gravity plays the role of a fundamental, rather than effective field theory. … Detecting the Higgs scalar with mass around 126 GeV at the LHC could give a strong hint for the ABSENCE of new physics …….”
    Maybe Shaposhnikov and Wetterich ought to get the prize ?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      It’s very nice to get thatm but there were so many predictions for the Higgs mass that someone was bound to get it right by chance alone, To be credible they would have to predict something else.

  11. Lubos Motl says:

    More than one billion people knows very well the scientist next on par with Higgs who should really be credited for the Higgs boson and all of us forgot about him: 😉


    At least this one is out of the Nobel game, however.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      🙂 of course it is rediculous to say that Bose had anything to do with the discovery of the Higgs boson, but it is always interesting to look at why Bose and many other individuals were overlooked for work that could easily have been worthy of a Nobel. Apparently he was never nominated because he did not cultivate contacts with other physicists accoring to this:

      Next question, Why do people publish text and image only articles on youtube?

  12. Manny says:

    Tom Kibble would be the one who would never go for receiving the Nobel without Guralnik and Hagen. In reading the history, not sure he was the lead on that paper either.

  13. Hugh says:

    If Englert wins it proves the Swedes did not read the 1964 papers.

  14. Philip Gibbs says:

    Very odd to get two messages a few hours apart with different names but the same illinois-based IP address, both with lame comments trying to cast doubt on some of the most likely candidates.

  15. physics fanatic says:

    It would be a mistake for the Nobel committee to award a prize before more characterization of the newly identified boson. That could only lead to future embarrassment for them.

    Assuming it is ultimately characterized as the Higgs boson, of course the theorists should be recognized and awarded. All those that are still living that is. Awarding the prize to a subset of the living theorists at the time of an award would be arbitrary and inappropriate. The naming of “Higgs” to the boson is arbitrary for example based on the history. It could have easily have been named for any (or all) of the six. Awarding to a subset of theorists would be as ridiculous as just waiting until only three are still living (would you leave your inheritance to just a subset of your kids for example, or just the three oldest, or three random of your choosing, no!). That is why APS has recognized all six for the Sakurai and all three papers as among the most relevant in history.

    One solution to this paradox would be to award to the three papers that contributed to the work and have been acknowledged over the last 48 years as essentially simultaneous and collectively accretive to the overall theory (and thus to all the still living theorists). I am certain that the contributors care little about the money and primarily about the recognition conferred by a Nobel. Or perhaps the Nobel committe will hold back an award this year while things are further characterized and recognize all the living theorists next year assuming things are then locked down and conclusive on it being the “Higgs” particle.

  16. arivero67 says:

    By the way, is it another case of Siegel principle, that all the Nobel prize for theory in particle physics are to be given to work done before 1974?

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