Nearly 50 years of experiments and billions of dollars in equipment followed the prediction of the Higgs mechanism by theoretical physicists in 1964. Ulrich Heintz and Meenakshi Narain, two of the particle physicists at Brown University who worked on experiments at Fermilab and at CERN, note that the successful search for the Higgs was caried on by thousands of researchers.
The Nobel Prize awarded today to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs was a long time in the making. The Higgs mechanism was invented almost 50 years ago, and ever since the standard model emerged as the explanation of everything in particle physics that we have observed so far. The search for the Higgs boson was a quest that heated up for particle physics experimenters with every new facility that came online. Some of us (Heintz, Narain) looked for it in their thesis experiment at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring in the 1980s. Then the search moved to European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to the Large Electron Positron Collider, and back again to the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago, where we (Cutts, Heintz, Landsberg, Narain) were part of the discovery of the top quark in 1995 with the D-Zero experiment. (more…)