Edinburgh’s Higgs Wins Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physics has been jointly awarded to Francois Englert and Edinburgh Professor Peter Higgs.


Edinburgh alumnus Peter Higgs and colleague Francois Englert have received the prize for proposing the “Higgs Boson”. The so-called “God Particle” was proven to exist last year at Cern in Switzerland.

Prize winners, Englert and Higgs.

In 1964, whilst lecturing at Edinburgh, Higgs was the first of several physicists to publish papers proposing a mechanism for how matter can have mass.

The theory posited the existence of a “missing particle”, the Higgs Boson. It took almost fifty years, and the construction of the enormous, and obscenely sophisticated, Large Hadron Collider.

The LHC

The 84 year old Higgs, known for his shyness and avoidance of the spotlight, was not available for comment. Edinburgh physics colleague, Alan Walker told the BBC: “he’s gone on holiday without a phone”, so he can “take some time to relax” before facing the “media storm”.

The University released a statement from Higgs, pre-emptively prepared in case he won: “I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy”.

He also congratulated “those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle”, and hoped there would be increased “awareness of the value of blue-sky research”.

There is some controversy over the “rock star” status Higgs has in the world of physics. Although the particle is named after him, and his was the first paper published, other researchers independently came up with similar ideas.

Because of Nobel rules limiting the number of recipients, only Higgs and Englert could be recognised.

The winning of the prize earned praise from figures like Steven Hawking and David Cameron, who said the award was a credit to “world-leading British Universities”.

The Tab’s reaction

 

Here is an explanation of the physcis. With sugar and ping-pong balls.