University of Iowa and Iowa State University researchers have gotten a shout-out in the citation for the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics that was awarded Tuesday to Francois Englert and Peter W. Higgs for their theory on how particles acquire mass.
In the citation honoring the 1964 theory that was confirmed last year with the discovery of a “Higgs particle,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences references researchers with two experiments who extracted the Higgs particle.
“Two research groups of some 3,000 scientists each, ATLAS and CMS, managed to extract the Higgs particle from billions of particle collisions,” according to the Nobel Prize citation.
Several UI and ISU physicists were involved in the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Ten ISU researchers had their names on a 2012 paper describing their observation of a new particle.
Chunhui Chen was one of those physicists, and he told The Gazette on Tuesday that their discovery was a long time coming.
“The journey started a long time ago,” said Chen, an assistant professor at ISU. “It took us almost two decades to really be able to find the Higgs particle.”
And, Chen said, he feels fortunate to have been on the team that made the discovery.
“We were very happy, and obviously we were very lucky as well,” he said.
Chen said he’s honored to have been a part of the larger group that made the discovery, but his primary interest is its contribution to science.
“It’s not about individuals,” he said. “It’s about the moving forward of the whole field.”