Cern receives Prince of Asturias award

François Englert (left), Peter Higgs (centre) and, on behalf of CERN, Director-General Rolf Heuer (right) celebrate receiving the Prince of Asturias Award (Image: Iván Martínez/FPA) Keystone

The Cern research centre near Geneva, as well as Britain’s Peter Higgs and Belgium’s François Englert have been awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias award for their discoveries on how subatomic particles acquire mass.

This content was published on October 25, 2013 - 17:20 and agencies

Cern Director-General Rolf Heuer said he was extremely honoured to accept the prize on behalf of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) on the Swiss-French border during a ceremony at Oviedo’s Campoamor Theatre in Spain.

"This prize recognises the importance of the discovery and is an award for all scientists – experimentalists and theorists – who made it possible,” said Heuer on Friday.

The prize was awarded weeks after Higgs and Englert received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering research.

Englert, 80 and his colleague Robert Brout, who died in 2011, followed by 84-year-old Higgs were the first to publish research on the existence of a so-called Higgs boson particle in the 1960s to provide an answer to a riddle: why matter has mass.

Treacle on snow

After decades of research, their work was finally vindicated in July last year by experiments at the Cern’s gigantic particle collider at which the Higgs boson was discovered.

The tiny particle, they believed, acts like treacle on snow – causing other basic building blocks of nature to stick together, slow down and form atoms.

The award ceremony took take place in the presence of the Queen of Spain and the Prince and Princess of Asturias. Cern said the prize would be used to offer ten grants for PhD students from around the world to attend next year’s major particle physics conference, the International Conference on High Energy Physics, ICHEP2014, in Valencia.

The Prince of Asturias Awards are a series of annual prizes awarded in Spain by the Prince of Asturias Foundation to individuals, entities or organizations from around the world who make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, and public affairs.

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