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Nobel for Japanese physicists at heart of matter

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Nobel for Japanese physicists at heart of matter

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The Nobel Committee has given this year’s award for physics to three Japanese scientists who have shed light on the make-up of the universe.

The award, and the prize money of around a million euros, is being split two ways. One half is going to Tokyo-born US citizen Yoichiro Nambu, a professor at the University of Chicago. He was recognised for discovering the mechanism of so-called spontaneous broken symmetry, which explains the imbalance between matter and anti-matter.

The other recipients are Toshihide Maskawa and Makoto Kobayashi. Their joint research helped explain the existence and behaviour of the very tiniest particles, known as quarks. Kobayashi and Maskawa identified the six types of quarks — called; up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top.

All were later discovered in high-energy particle physics experiments. Kobayashi said the news of the award came as a shock, but his colleague was not surprised,saying: “there is a pattern to how the Nobel prize is awarded.”