The Higgs legacy

Peter Higgs took up a lectureship at the Tait Institute of Mathematical Physics at Edinburgh in 1960.

A few years later, he published his theory of a new sub-atomic particle, which went on to bear his name.

Professor Peter Higgs

Fundamental particle

The Higgs boson enables other fundamental particles to acquire mass and is key to the Standard Model of Physics, a unifying theory of the physical universe.

In 2012, almost 50 years after the theory was conceived, the CERN facility near Geneva confirmed the existence of the particle.

The discovery will form the basis for further research into the particle and its extensions beyond the so-called Standard Model.

Team effort

The boson’s discovery, and continued research in this field, are made possible by extraordinary technology and endeavour.

Teams of scientists and engineers at CERN contributed to the find, while hundreds of specialists around the world work on associated research.

Included in that number are many scientists based in Edinburgh, some of whom were taught by Professor Higgs.

Inspiring science

Professor Higgs’ work is the focus of a seven-week massive open online course hosted by Edinburgh, entitled The Discovery of the Higgs Boson.

The programme describes the scientific advancements that led to the creation of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and to the detection of the boson.

Professor Higgs retired in 1996.

He was made a Companion of Honour in the 2013 New Year’s Honours and was awarded the Edinburgh Medal, jointly with CERN, shortly after.

An audience with Higgs

Earlier this year, Professor Higgs joined a panel discussion on the Higgs boson.

The celebrated scientist was joined by four generations of scientists from the University's School of Physics and Astronomy in setting out the importance of the discovery.

The panel also discussed the inspiration behind the theory and the extraordinary technology and human endeavour that enabled the discovery to be made.

Peter Higgs photograph courtesy CERN/Claudia Marcelloni.