One of many proton–proton collisions at the CMS detector. (Courtesy: CMS/CERN)

Physics World reveals its top 10 breakthroughs for 2012

Dec 14, 2012

The Physics World award for the 2012 Breakthrough of the Year goes “to the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN for their joint discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the Large Hadron Collider”. Nine other research initiatives are highly commended and cover topics ranging from energy harvesting to precision cosmology.

CERN discovers Higgs-like boson

If for nothing else, 2012 will be remembered as the year that physics hit the mainstream – at least for one glorious week in July when physicists working on the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN announced that they have discovered a “Higgs-like particle”. Camera crews and reporters from around the globe flocked to the Geneva lab where the announcement was made and the discovery led newscasts and graced newspaper front pages worldwide.

However, mass appeal is not why we chose the discovery as our breakthrough of the year. The July announcement was much anticipated because physicists have had the Higgs boson in their sights for nearly 50 years. Its discovery completes the Standard Model of particle physics – making it the most important physics breakthrough so far in the 21st century.

Read more: Physics World reveals its top 10 breakthroughs for 2012.

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