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Prof. Peter Higgs


1929 -

Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist, known for the Higgs boson. Although born in Wallsend (Newcastle upon Tyne), the son of a BBC sound engineer, raised in Bristol and educated at King's College London, Higgs came to the University of Edinburgh as a researcher 1954-56. After a few years back in London, he returned to Edinburgh in 1960 as a lecturer in Mathematical Physics. He was promoted to a Personal Chair in Theoretical Physics in 1980 and retired from the University in 1996.

He is best known for a theory which explained the origin of mass of elementary particles through the interaction with a field, which became known as the Higgs field. It also predicted the existence of a new particle which became known as the Higgs boson. It is said he gained inspiration for this theory while walking in the Cairngorm Mountains. The search for the Higgs boson became the major objective of experimental particle physics and this search was a significant impetus behind the building of the £2.6-billion Large Hadron Collider at CERN (Switzerland), one of the most expensive scientific experiments ever constructed.

Higgs was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1974, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983 and was admitted to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the New Year's Honours List of 2013. In the same year it was announced that he would share the Nobel Prize for Physics with Belgian physicist François Englert. Higgs lives modestly in a flat in Edinburgh's New Town.


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