Meet Peter Higgs: Father of the ‘God Particle’

James Randerson writes in the Guardian:

Peter Higgs rarely gives interviews. The 79-year-old might be a shoo-in for a Nobel prize if the LHC finds evidence for the fundamental particle he proposed in 1964 — known as the Higgs boson or, more colourfully, the God Particle — but he is a reluctant rock-star scientist, too self-deprecating to even refer to the particle by name. He prefers to call it the “boson named after me”.

Finding the Higgs boson is probably the only thing many people outside physics know about the impending experiments at Cern. And until recently, the man behind it has been as mysterious as the missing particle.

The Higgs boson is the particle that is thought to give everything else in the universe mass, but that bit of theoretical physics is unlikely to be the reason most people have heard of it. Its theistic nickname was coined by Nobel-prize winning physicist Leon Lederman, but Higgs himself is no fan of the label. “I find it embarrassing because, though I’m not a believer myself, I think it is the kind of misuse of terminology which I think might offend some people.”

Physicist Peter Higgs. Photo: Murdo McLeod


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