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Global Conservation Laws and Massless Particles

Gerald Guralnik


(HIGGS BOSON) GURALNIK, G.S., HAGEN, C.R., and KIBBLE, T.W.B. Global Conservation Laws and Massless Particles. IN: Physical Review Letters. Volume 13, Number 20, pp. 585-87. New York: The American Physical Society, 16 November 1964. Quarto, original printed paper wrappers, staple-bound as issued. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $3200.

First edition of this early and important paper in the search for the Higgs boson—a crucial theoretical particle that at the time of this paper's publication had just been named. The recent discovery of the Higgs boson means that one of the authors will be a strong candidate to be one of the traditional three to win the Nobel—along with Higgs himself, of course, and Francois Englert—for laying the theoretical groundwork with this paper.

In 1964 three teams proposed related but different approaches to explain how mass could arise in local gauge theories. These three famous papers were written by 1) François Englert and Robert Brout; 2) Peter Higgs; and 3) Gerald Guralnik, C. Richard Hagen, and Tom Kibble [the present paper], and all are credited with the prediction of the Higgs boson and Higgs mechanism which provides the means by which gauge bosons can acquire non-zero masses in the process of spontaneous symmetry breaking. The mechanism is the key element of the electroweak theory that forms part of the Standard Model of particle physics, and of many models, such as the Grand Unified Theory, that go beyond it. The papers that introduce this mechanism were published in Physical Review Letters and were each recognized as milestone papers by PRL's 50th anniversary celebration. Additionally, all of the six physicists were awarded the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics for this work. In July of 2012, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced the discovery, at its Large Hadron Collider, of a particle with properties consistent with those predicted for the Higgs Boson, and, as of this writing, the existence of the Higgs boson is considered confirmed.

"It's good news for physicists, but one dreadful headache for the Nobel committee. The discovery—or near discovery—of the Higgs boson, will see someone win a Nobel prize, but who deserves credit for the work is a minefield… The prize is more likely to go to theoretical physicists who worked on the theory of particle masses almost 50 years ago. Here the parentage becomes more muddled. Six physicists published the theory within four months of each other in 1964… The first to publish, that August, were Robert Brout and François Englert at the Free University of Brussels. Brout died in 2011, and the award cannot be given posthumously. Second to publish was Peter Higgs, with two papers on the theory in September and October 1964 [also in Physical Review Letters]. In his second paper, he became the first to mention explicitly that the theory demanded a new particle in nature, which was given the name Higgs boson in 1972. Drawing attention to the particle was crucial, because it gave scientists something concrete to hunt. Third to publish was a group of three theorists, including two U.S. researchers, Dick Hagen and Gerry Guralnik, and a British physicist, Tom Kibble. Their work was published in November [1964, the present paper]. All three teams worked independently. So there are at least five living physicists who can lay claim to the Nobel prize. If the particle discovered at Cern is confirmed to be the Higgs boson, then Higgs is certain to be honored. That leaves four physicists competing for two places. Englert published first, and would be hard to dismiss. That leaves one place left" (The Guardian, July 4, 2012). Mailing label on rear wrapper.

Staples a bit rusty, toning to edges of wrappers. An extremely good copy.

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