Whatever else, there can be little sentimentality in science. Never mind, then, that Peter Higgs first proposed his "boson" 48 years ago. Never mind that its discovery would explain why matter has mass. And never mind that Professor Higgs is, by all accounts, a charmingly self-effacing person, as well as a sizeable contributor to the sum of human knowledge. The fact remains that, in this context, proof means a less than a one-in-a-million chance of statistical fluke. Researchers at Cern are within a whisker. But that whisker could be crucial; without it, the Higgs boson is still just a theory.
So when it comes to the Nobel Prize, the panel must resist the pressure. By 2013, though – with more tests run and more results gleaned – all may be different. Professor Higgs has waited decades already. What's one more year?
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