NEWS | August 29, 2013

Nobel laureate to explain the importance of the Higgs particle


Gerard 't Hooft, one of the international scientists whose Nobel Prize winning research contributed to the discovery of the Higgs particle, will speak in Sacramento on how the particle was detected, what it means in terms of understanding the subatomic world and the future discoveries it will likely inspire.

Gerard ‘t Hooft ©
Gerard 't Hooft

His address, titled “The Higgs Particle,” begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, in the Matsui Lecture Hall, Room 1222, in the Education Building located at 4610 X Street on the Sacramento campus of UC Davis. A book signing will follow the lecture at 8:30 p.m. The event is free; registration is requested by e-mailing or calling 916-734-3763.

While first postulated more than 40 years ago, the Higgs particle wasn’t actually seen until 2012 at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. The discovery confirmed the mechanism by which elementary particles acquire gravitational mass and launched a new era in particle physics and astrophysics that could lead to a complete understanding of the beginning of the universe and its eventual fate. Advances in fields such as power generation and medicine are also likely.

“The massive energy of the Large Hadron Collider provides unique opportunities to visualize and test the many speculations and theories about the atomic building blocks and forces that created our world and to determine its current nature and future,” said John Gunion, professor of physics and researcher with the High Energy FrontierTheory Initiative (HEFTI) at UC Davis.

“Interactions among the elementary particles — including photons, electrons, protons, positrons and, now we know, the Higgs particle — affect our daily lives in medicine,” said William Bommer, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and governor of the American College of Cardiology. “Every advance in particle science furthers the field of cardiology, especially cardiovascular imaging.”

‘t Hooft is a theoretical physicist at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, where his research focuses on the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum gravity, black holes and gauge theories in elementary particle physics. He and colleague Martinus J. G. Veltman were awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for showing how particle theory can precisely calculate physical quantities and processes, including those involving particles that have not yet been observed.

The lecture is cosponsored by HEFTI and the American College of Cardiology.

The HEFTI team at UC Davis conducts research aimed at the unanswered questions of nature, including supersymmetry, supergravity, quantum gravity, general relativity, extra space-time dimensions, particle dark matter, high-energy scattering theory, lattice quantumchromodynamics and string theory. For more information, visit

The American College of Cardiology is transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health through continuous quality improvement, patient-centered care and practice excellence. For more information, visit