The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Peter Higgs of Belgium and Francois Englert of Britain Tuesday, nearly five decades after the duo first predicted the existence of the Higgs boson, a mechanism that explains the origin of subatomic particles.
Higgs and Englert theorized in the 1960s of a particle that would explain the how subatomic particles acquire mass. Their prediction made headlines in 2012 when researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, announced evidence suggesting the existence of the Higgs boson.
Also known as the "God particle," the Higgs boson explains how particles clump together to form atoms. The discovery was the product of more than 1 trillion particle collisions orchestrated by CERN using the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider. The 17-mile collider built underneath the Swiss-French border breaks atoms down by smashing them together at nearly the speed of light to observe their building blocks.
"I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy," Higgs said in a statement released by the University of Edinburgh. "I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research."
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences unusually delayed its announcement by one hour. The Nobel Prize's official Twitter account did not elaborate on what caused the delay other than that the Academy was still in session, but gave periodic updates on when the announcement was expected.
The Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced daily through the end of the week.