• Higgs, Englert and the CERN explain at the University of Oviedo the road to the discovery of the boson

    October 24, 2013

    The winners of the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research encourage the students to be "the protagonists of the discoveries of tomorrow" in a mass act at the Faculty of Sciences

    From left to right, Englert, Higgs, Bertolucci and Heuer toast with Higgs's beer with the students of Sciences.

    "We are the past, but you are the future and there are still many things to be discovered". The winners of the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research sent this encouraging message to hundreds of students of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Oviedo. Peter Higgs and François Englert, also winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and Sergio Bertolucci, research director of the CERN, recalled the long road that led them from the first theoretical reflections posed during the 1960's to the confirmation of the existence of Higgs boson during the summer of 2012. The meeting between the winners of the Award and the students were part of the acts organized by the Prince of Asturias Foundation and the University in celebration of the award ceremony.

    "It carries my name, but my work was simply complementary. Robert Brout and François Englert have already talked about the particle", said Peter Higgs during his conference. The Nobel Prize recalled before the audience how he "tried to construct models that did not work" until one day the comments of an editor who rejected one of his articles made him look at the particle that is nowadays named after him. Higgs concluded his intervention thanking the CERN for their "heroic effort to construct the machine that allowed them to prove the theory. It has been highly gratifying and I thank you for it".

    Higgs recalled how the comments on an article rejected by a journal made him look at the particle nowadays named after him

    François Englert also constantly born in mind his deceased colleague Robert Brout, whose widow was among the audience that crammed the conference hall as a homage to the winners of the award. Englert highlighted the different "but complementary" visions that enouraged his work during decades and encouraged the students to face the challenge of unlocking the pending discoveries in the field of Physics to understand the mysteries of the Universe.

    Sergio Bertolucci, research director of the CERN, praised the role of basic research as "a high-risk science that re-writes books and finds the answers that do not exist anywhere". This way, he encouraged the students to "speculate because there is nothing more useful than filling your head with dreams", he claimed. "We have to keep going forward and you are the continuity of the discoveries", he concluded.

    The Vice-Rector for Research, Paz Suárez Rendueles, and the Vice-Rector for Students, Luis Rodríguez Muñiz, welcomed the award winners accompanied by the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Norberto Corral. The director of the research group of High Energy Physics that coordinates the CMS experiment with the CERN, Professor Javier Cuevas, was in charge of presenting the winners. Cuevas praised the brilliant career of the two winners of the Nobel Prize and thanked them for their protagonism in "this symbolic return of Physics to the classrooms" at the University of Oviedo. Moreover, he highlighted the role that Spain plays at the CERN in the different branches of research and lab logistics. A multitudinous toast with the beer that had been specifically brewed to celebrate Peter Higgs's trajectory closed the act alongside the students of the faculty.

    Previously, the Rector, Vicente Gotor, met the winners in his office at the Historical Building. Higgs, Englert, Bertolucci and Rolf Heuer, general director of the CERN, signed the Book of Honor of the University of Oviedo.