"I can't wait to find out what Nature has in store for us"

Professor Guido Altarelli, a physicist at CERN and the University of Rome, has received two prizes since the beginning of the year: the Julius Wess prize awarded by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Sakurai prize awarded by the American Physical Society.


Guido Altarelli (left), receiving the Julius Wess prize in Karlsruhe on 16 January.

It's been a good start to the year for Guido Altarelli. After receiving two prestigious prizes in the space of a few weeks for achievements during his long career, all he's waiting for is the Higgs boson!

"I can't wait to find out what Nature has in store for us!", he smiles. Hardly surprising when you think that Altarelli has been looking for the answers since the very start of his career in particle physics. As a theorist at CERN for over twenty years, he has always worked closely with the experiments, first at the SPS, then at LEP and now at the LHC. Today, following the significant progress in 2011, he can hardly contain his excitement: "Whatever happens, there's going to be a big shake-up, that's for sure! Certain theories that have taken the back seat up to now will be thrown into the spotlight, while others will be relegated to the history books. It remains to be seen who's bet on the winning horse."

Although Guido is delighted by the constraints placed on the Higgs mass range in 2011, he is impatient for 2012's results to tell us, once and for all, whether or not the Standard Model Higgs exists in the narrow low-energy mass region indicated by the experiments. "On the other hand," he jokes, "if the experiments end up finding a Higgs with a mass of more than 600 GeV, it will be proof of a conspiracy  by new physics to make us think that the Higgs was a light Standard Model Higgs!" A joke that some physicists certainly wouldn't find very amusing…

by Anaïs Schaeffer