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Visiting Professor Wins Nobel Prize For 'God Particle' Discovery

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A visiting professor to Chapman University has won the Nobel Prize for his role in discovering the Higgs boson, also known as the "God Particle."

Belgian François Englert was awarded the prize Tuesday in physics along with Peter Higgs, for whom the particle was named. Together, they have been researching the particle since 1960s but the theory of how sub-atomic particles get mass was only confirmed last year.

The 80-year-old Englert is currently working at Chapman University’s Institute for Quantum Studies in the city of Orange, CBS reports.

Englert called in Tuesday morning in a teleconference after the announcement in Stockholm and answered questions, The Washington Post reports. His fellow Nobelist, Higgs, was unavailable. The University of Edinburgh sent out a statement in which Higgs said, "I am overwhelmed to receive this awar. I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.

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"This is great for physics. It’s great for science. The story is fantastic," Michael Turner, president of the American Physical Society told the Post. “They answered a question that’s so simple and so basic that few people asked it—why do things have mass?”

Fred Dylla, executive director of the American Institute of Physics, pointed out that the research was done in 1964 and that the pair "had to wait half a century to see it come to fruition."

Englert and Higgs were two of six theorists credited with paving the way for the discovery of the particle, but Englert was the first to publish, according to the Post. Of the five physicists still alive, that leaves out three who were not included in the prize, as well as the thousands of people at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN who were part of the scientific process.

APS president Turner said Tuesday, “Discoveries more and more involve a village. It took 10,000 people and $10 billion and 20 years to build the instrument that made this discovery, and you’d be hard pressed to narrow that group down even to 100, let alone to three.”

Dylla added, "The Nobel committee has done a very fair job on a very difficult decision."