Theoretical physicist Professor Peter Higgs has been named as the recipient of the Edinburgh Award 2011.
Previous winners of the prize, organised by the City of Edinburgh Council and who are nominated by the citizens of Edinburgh for their outstanding contribution to the city, include Sir Chris Hoy and JK Rowling.
A sculpture of Professor Higgs’s handprints has been installed on a flagstone in the City Chambers quadrangle.
Professor Higgs will also receive an engraved Loving Cup - a traditional two handled drinking vessel that represents friendship.
In 1964, Professor Higgs developed his theory of the Higgs boson, an important ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics, which helps explain how objects have mass.
Professor Higgs’s theory has formed part of the research being carried out at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.
In 2011, scientists at CERN announced they had glimpsed the Higgs boson and hope to confirm whether it does or does not exist in 2012.
Should Professor Higgs theory be proven, it is widely predicted that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
In this interview, Professor Higgs talks of the honour he feels at receiving the Edinburgh Award 2011 and explains what it will mean to him if scientists at CERN confirm the existence of the Higgs boson.
Peter Higgs came to Edinburgh for the first time in 1948 and, in his words, fell in love with the City.
Following studies at other institutions, he returned to Edinburgh in 1960 to take up a lectureship at the Tait Institute of Mathematical Physics.
His work was recognised in 1984 with the bestowing of the Rutherford Medal and Prize and he became a fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1991.
Professor Higgs retired in 1996 and became Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Alongside his research work, Professor Higgs has taught many students, some of whom are now themselves involved in the research at CERN.
This article was published on Mar 9, 2012