Famous discovery has ‘ruined my life’ claims Professor Higgs

Professor Peter Higgs has said his life has been made hell by his discovery. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Professor Peter Higgs has said his life has been made hell by his discovery. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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God particle professor Peter Higgs has said his life has been ruined by his famous discovery because he is constantly bombarded with requests for selfies.

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The Nobel-prize winning physicist complained he can’t walk the streets of Edinburgh or go shopping without being stopped by hordes of fans.

The 87-year-old Edinburgh University professor predicted the existence of this elusive fundamental particle, known as the Higgs boson, while working there in 1964.

In July 2012, physicists at Cern’s Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson, proving the professor’s theory.

That brought Higgs, who has lived in Edinburgh for more than 50 years, his Nobel prize in 2013 and worldwide acclaim but he has told how he is uncomfortable with finding fame late in life.

He said: “My life has been ruined by people recognising me on the street and wanting a selfie.

“It still happens on the streets of Edinburgh when I go out to do some shopping, and people are amazed that I’m visible going shopping.

“But I say, ‘I’ve been here 50 years’. I hardly dare to go to the school of physics because a horde of students from the Far East will descend on me bearing smartphones.

“It’s made particularly difficult by the fact a portrait of me hangs on the stairway — they know what to look for.”

Higgs also said he was trying to think of a way to get out of attending the opening of the new Higgs Centre for Innovation at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

He added: “In spite of my never having any real connection with it, they put my name on it and my name shouldn’t be on it.

“I’m going to be embarrassed if they ask me to participate in the opening. I have to find a way of saying, ‘I think you’ve named it after the wrong person’.”

The scientist has said that he thinks he was only kept on by the institution because of the prospect of him winning a Nobel Prize.

He said: “Today if you are an academic you have to handle things differently by showing more interest in run-of-the-mill research problems and being involved in them. I think anybody who wanted to pursue the kind of interests I pursued would need to do it a bit surreptitiously as a spare time activity.”

Higgs was also modest about his career and achievements and said the so-called ‘God particle’ would not be of great use to future physicists.

He added: “It was the climax of my career and almost the end of it, because I didn’t do much of interest afterwards.

“It’s extremely difficult for me to imagine anybody doing anything useful with that particle. I don’t see any future for it at all.”

Higgs was this week presented with an award from the 1851 Commission, the educational trust that funded his original research, and said he hoped it would be his last honour.