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A Nobel Prize for the Higgs

By Rob Mitchum // October 8, 2013

In one of the more easily-called Nobel Prize announcements ever, the prize in physics was awarded this morning to Peter Higgs and François Englert for their theoretical work predicting the particle now known as the Higgs boson. Though their theory of the particle’s existence was published in 1964, it took thousands of physicists and the $4.75 billion Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland to finally confirm its existence last year. So while Higgs and Englert will get the medal and the free trip to Sweden, today’s award can be celebrated by scientists and institutions around the world, including our own.

An article at the University of Chicago News site details the role played by UChicago, Argonne National Laboratory and the Computation Institute in the landmark discovery of the Higgs boson. The contributions of the ATLAS center researchers (including the CI’s Rob Gardner) and CI Director Ian Foster are among those highlighted in the article by Jeremy Manier and Steve Koppes:

One computational key to the Higgs discovery was developed by Ian Foster, director of the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between UChicago and Argonne. Foster helped invent grid computing, which allows people to share computer power, databases, and other online tools autonomously and securely across organizational and geographic boundaries.

“Building directly on concepts, methods, and software developed at Argonne and UChicago—and, certainly, elsewhere—the LHC Computing Grid distributes petabytes of data worldwide to hundreds of sites for reconstruction and analysis,” said Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science. “Without the LHC Computing Grid, the discovery could not have occurred.”

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