The Brown physics department gathered on October 8th to celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Prize in physics to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.” It was an especially delightful celebration because a prize for Higgs physics bears special meaning for Brown. Brown played key roles in both the prediction and the discovery of this truly fundamental aspect of nature.
Work by Brown Professor Gerry Guralnik with C.R. Hagen and Tom Kibble has been noted by many to have helped establish the veracity of the mechanism discovered by Peter Higgs, François Englert and Robert Brout. Gerry played a part in a breakthrough that boosted theoretical physics for the following decades. Their gauge field approaches form the underpinnings of modern high-energy theory. It was a theoretical physics triumph that continues to inspire.
Very significantly, this Nobel Prize was hastened by the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 was a triumph of experimental physics and we are proud that Brown’s CMS group provided key ideas, talent, and leadership in the collaboration. Professors David Cutts, Ulrich Heintz, Greg Landsberg, and Meenakshi Narain guided postdocs, grad students, and undergraduate students in this important quest. Together they performed essential roles in the construction of the Silicon Tracker and Hadron Calorimeter detectors and conducted data analysis crucial to the discovery.
Professor Guralnik’s cell phone has been overheating from reporter’s inquiries. The Brown members of the CMS group have also been sought out by the press. Links to some of the press items are below as well as to personal reflections of our Brown colleagues.