Physicists Peter Higgs and François Englert and the European Organization for Nuclear Research will share the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research in recognition of their work establishing the existence of the so-called God particle, the Asturias Foundation said Wednesday.
Working independently, Higgs and Englert - along with the late Robert Brout - formulated in 1964 the existence of a subatomic particle that came to be known as the Higgs boson.
But it was only in 2012 that the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, was able to confirm the existence of this particle through experiments conducted with the Large Hadron Collider.
"This finding, which has been called the greatest discovery in the history of the understanding of Nature, enables a glimpse at what happened immediately after the Big Bang," the Asturias Foundation said.
News of the award coincided with the 84th birthday of Higgs, a native of Newcastle, England, who taught for 16 years at the University of Edinburgh.
Englert, an 80-year-old Belgian, is affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California.
"The discovery of the Higgs boson is a prime example of how Europe has led a collective effort to solve one of the deepest mysteries of physics," the Asturias Award jury said Wednesday.
Along with a cash prize of 50,000 euros (about $64,000) and a sculpture by Joan Miro, each award recipient gets a diploma and an insignia bearing the Prince of Asturias Foundation's coat of arms.
The prizes, which Spain's Crown Prince Felipe will hand out at a ceremony in the fall in the northern city of Oviedo, are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels. EFE