The Nobel Prize for physics was awarded today to three researchers whose work on "broken symmetry" has clarified the origins of the universe. Their theories—a cornerstone of the so-called Standard Model of physics—explain how the world came into being after the Big Bang; although huge amounts of matter and antimatter canceled each other out, a small deviation in proportions allowed the cosmos to survive.
Yoichiru Nambu, a Japanese-born American at the University of Chicago, received half the prize for discovering broken symmetry in the 1960s. The other half of the prize went to Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Masakawa, two Japanese physicists who posited that new types of the subatomic particles called quarks were necessary to account for broken symmetry. Their work lies at the heart of the research under way at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.