particle physics

The early 1950s were an experimental gold mine for physicists, with new particles produced in accelerators almost every week. Yet the strong nuclear force that acted between them defied theoretical description, sending physicists on a long and arduous journey that culminated in several Nobel prizes and the exotic concept of "asymptotic freedom".

Research into the bizarre world of neutrinos helps to piece together the creation story of the Universe.

In 2004 three physicists decided to dabble in a field they knew little about. Within weeks they had developed a new technique that transforms weeks' worth of computer calculations into something that could be done on a single page in an hour. It's used in particle accelerators such as the LHC at CERN.

The 2013 Nobel prize in physics goes to Peter Higgs and François Englert for proposing the mechanism that gives things mass.

"It's a great day for particle physics," says Ben Allanach, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge. "It's very exciting, I think we're on the verge of the Higgs discovery." And indeed, it seems like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has given particle physics an early Christmas present — compelling evidence that the famous Higgs boson exists.


Are we close to finding the Higgs? Ben Allanach explains it is not about catching a glimpse of the beast itself, but instead keeping a careful count of the evidence it leaves behind.

Find out with Martin Rees
It's hard to avoid CERN these days. Last year's successful switch-on of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, followed by a blow-out which is currently being fixed, sparked wide-spread media coverage, and currently CERN stars in the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons. So what goes on at CERN and why the hubbub about the Large Hadron Collider, known as the LHC? Ben Allanach investigates.
The mathematical maps in theoretical physics have been highly successful in guiding our understanding of the universe at the largest and smallest scales. Linking these two scales together is one of the golden goals of theoretical physics. But, at the very edges of our understanding of these fields, one of the most controversial areas of physics lies where these maps merge: the cosmological constant problem.
The 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded.