Witsies celebrate 2013 Nobel Prize

Prof Bruce Mellado from the High Energy Physics group at Wits displays the processing unit the group is building for a new super computer. Photo: Mia Swart

Prof Bruce Mellado who is one of the lead physicists with HEP, a project at Wits University that contributes to the Atlas project. Photo: Mia Swart

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded today to physicists François Englert, 80 (Belgium) and Peter Higgs, 84 (Britain), “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles.”

Known as the Higgs Boson particle, the work of these two physicists was confirmed by discoveries made during the Atlas experiment at CERN’sLarge Hadron Collider.

Wits University is today celebrating the achievement of the Nobel Prize as a team of Witsies are regular and significant contributors to the Atlas project.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Professor Bruce Mellado said: “It’s an accolade for everyone involved and it’s great that a few strong people in South Africa had contributed.

Together with Dr Trevor Vickey and Dr Oana Boeriu, Mellado leads a team of Wits staff, students and post-doctoral scholars at the High Energy Physics Group (HEP), in the School of Physics who directly contribute to the work associated with the Nobel Prize winners.

Mellado said that it’s good that the theorists who proposed the mechanism received the Nobel Prize and that the scientific community acknowledged the greatness of the discovery.

“In the end we want to have South Africa make a strong contribution to future accelerators and experiments to explore the Higgs Boson.”

Higgs and Englert share the prize money of 8m Swedish kronor (about R12,5 million) for their theoretical discovery made almost 50 years ago.

Earlier today Wits University released a statement indicating that the lead physicists were available for comment:

Dr Trevor Vickey at trevor.vickey@cern.ch or on 27 11 717 6884 or 072 966 0617

Professor Bruce Mellado on bmellado@cern.ch on 27 11 717 6889 or 061 303 2579

Dr Oana Boeriu on oana.boeriu@cern.ch on 27 11 717 6885 or 072 971 6333