A member of the Swedish institution that awards the Nobel Prize for Physics publicly contested this year's award, saying Wednesday the honour for two physicists should have included the CERN laboratory which proved their theories.

"I think it's wrong," Anders Barany, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences told AFP, commenting a day after the decision, which was delayed for an hour due to "a lot of discussion."

"I think those experimental researchers have done incredibly fantastic work and should be rewarded."

Peter Higgs of Britain and Francois Englert of Belgium won the Nobel Prize for Physics for theoretical work on a particle that explains why the Universe has substance.

The presumed particle, popularly called the Higgs boson, was discovered last year by a mega-scale lab near Geneva operated by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Many had expected CERN to share the Nobel Prize. But the organisation was only mentioned in a brief note accompanying the decision.

The mention "has never been done before. It's a fine recognition but I don't think it's enough," said Barany.

"It's too watered-down, too little to be only mentioned in the text like that. I think it's very clumsy with that kind of text."

Barany is not a member of the Nobel Committee for Physics which determines the winner, or winners, of the prize.

Other Academy members argued that there was never any real chance that CERN would pick up the coveted prize.

"It was discussed a lot. But we must follow (Nobel's) will as I see it. There is nothing in it about institutions so in that way the decision was dead simple," said Hans Ryde, professor of physics at Lund University.

The chairman of the prize committee, Lars Brink, defended the decision, saying it was a "theoretical prize."

He denied that there had been lengthy discussions about including CERN.

"That's speculation. It's not true. Those are people who are speaking out of hand," he told AFP, pointing to the confidentiality of discussions.

Panel members are sworn not to reveal the contents of their discussion. Details are released 50 years later.

To give the prize to an organisation "was not an issue," Brink insisted.

CERN general director Rolf Heuer told AFP in Geneva that the decision was up to the Academy and that he was happy with the outcome.

"I think what matters for us is that the prize goes to particle physics," he said.

"Of course I would be very happy if we had also been awarded, but I'm equally happy for the two people... They did a tremendous job and they get recognition for a lot of work."

The two laureates will share a prize sum of eight million Swedish kronor ($1.25 million, 925,000 euros).

'Research is changing'

Apart from the Peace Prize no other Nobel has ever been awarded to an organisation, but according to the foundation which manages the fund there is nothing in the rules to prevent it.

"It's up to each prize-awarding institution to make that decision itself," said Nobel Foundation spokeswoman Annika Pontikis.

That has led some to suggest that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences should review its century-old policy of only honouring people.

"Research is changing. If you go back a hundred years it was about a single person doing experiments and making discoveries. And today it's 6,000 or so people -- a sort of collegial research situation," said Academy member Per Carlson, professor of elementary particle physics at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology.

"I don't know if the Academy will open up the possibility to give the prize to organisations in the future -- it's a possibility," he suggested. "In my view it should be possible."

The Nobel prizes for science have also been criticised for being hampered by the three categories selected by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel when he set up the award.

The three categories -- medicine or physiology, physics and chemistry -- reflect the main scientific disciplines that prevailed a century ago.

They do not specifically include the life sciences, which developed massively after the discovery of the structure of DNA in the middle of the last century.