So the actual recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics — the ones who get to get up on stage and shake the King of Sweden’s hand and collect that big check — are Francois Englert of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh. But that doesn’t mean that Johns Hopkins scientists don’t get at least a little credit for the discovery that snagged Englert and Higgs their prize; call it a partial Nobel, perhaps.
It didn’t surprise anyone that this year’s physics Nobel was awarded for the discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle.” A number of Johns Hopkins physics and astronomy professors traveled to Switzerland to help with the Higgs hunt via the Large Hadron Collider. “With my team at Hopkins and leading a group of several experts, I developed the methods to precisely focus the key system of the detector, the silicon tracking system,” Hopkins experimental physicist Andrei Gritsan explains. “Also, with my team, we developed the methods to extract maximum information from the relative angles and momenta of Higgs boson traces. This gave us confidence at the time of discovery and later to call what we see a Higgs boson.”
Of course, Gritsan and his Hopkins colleagues weren’t the only ones who played a crucial role in discovering the elusive Higgs boson. More than 2,000 other scientists and researchers were involved. Still, as far as Nobel prizes go, one-two thousandth is better than nothing. Nice job, physicists!