THE son of an Edinburgh-based academic who discovered the elusive Higgs boson particle today told how it would mean “everything” to his father if he was awarded a Nobel prize.
Calls have been made from leading physicists for Professor Peter Higgs, renowned theoretical physicist and retired Edinburgh University professor, to be knighted and awarded a Nobel prize.
It follows the results from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Switzerland yesterday that gave the strongest evidence yet of the existence of the Higgs boson – the so-called God particle, which helps explain why objects have mass.
The world’s most famous physicist Stephen Hawking last night said Higgs deserved the Nobel Prize – adding that he had now lost a bet with another scientist that the Higgs boson would never be found.
“It seems I have just lost $100,” he said.
Prof Higgs’ theory about the existence of the elusive particle directly influenced the production of the large hadron collider, which was switched on in 2008 at the Cern in Geneva.
The scientist, who was born in Newcastle but has lived in Edinburgh for more than half a century, said he had no idea the “amazing” discovery would be made within his lifetime when he made his proposals more than 50 years ago.
Prof Higgs’ son, Jonny, who lives in Bruntsfield, said being awarded a Nobel prize would mean the world to his father.
The 43-year-old musician said: “I think it would mean everything to him. It’s the highest accolade that you can get as a scientist really – that’s the big one.”
Dr Victoria Martin, a lecturer in particle physics at Edinburgh University who is involved in experiments at Cern and is also a former student of Prof Higgs, echoed calls for the 83-year-old to be honoured for his work in the 1960s which proposed the existence of what became known as the Higgs boson.
Dr Martin, 38, who lives in Abbeyhill, said: “I would be really happy for him. For the achievement to be recognised not just in the science community, but the wider community, would be really nice.”
Prof Higgs, who lives in the New Town, wiped a tear from his eye as the teams finished their presentations in the Cern auditorium yesterday.
“I am astounded at the amazing speed with which these results have emerged,” he said. “They are a testament to the expertise of the researchers and the elaborate technologies in place. I never expected this to happen in my lifetime.”
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