Director-General Schopper writes to Thatcher: Discovery imminent

20 December 1982

The first person outside CERN to be informed of the imminent discovery of the W boson is Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who paid a visit to CERN in August 1982. [See a video of the visit]. During her visit Thatcher asked the then Director-General of CERN Herwig Schopper to keep her updated on the progress of the search for the carriers of the weak force, the W and Z bosons.

In a confidential letter dated 20 December 1982, Schopper wrote:

"I am ever mindful of the promise I made on the occasion of your visit to CERN…that I would report to you immediately and directly on the day CERN obtained confirmed experimental evidence of the 'intermediate boson' (W+, W- and Z0) for which we are actively searching. …I am…pleased to inform you, in strict confidence, that the results recently obtained point to the imminence of such a discovery…"

Timeline: 
The search for the W boson

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