Obituary: Pioneering scientist Professor Peter Higgs dies aged 94 

The University mourns the loss of renowned physicist Professor Peter Higgs, who has died after a short illness. 

Professor Higgs is best known for predicting the existence of a fundamental physical particle that came to bear his name – the Higgs boson. 

He was a researcher at the University in 1964 when he predicted the particle, which enables other particles to acquire mass. 

His idea was validated by experiments almost 50 years later, in 2012, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. 

The discovery was followed by the award of a Nobel Prize for Professor Higgs in 2013. 

Higgs plaque

Scientific legacy 

Peter Higgs was born on 29 May 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne.  

He graduated in 1950 with a degree in physics from King’s College London. A year later, he was awarded an MSc and in 1954 acquired his  PhD. 

He discovered Edinburgh during a visit to the summer festival season as young man, and went on to make the city his home. 

Professor Higgs joined the staff of the University of Edinburgh in 1960, when he took up a lectureship at the Tait Institute of Mathematical Physics.  

He was promoted to Reader in 1970, and to a Personal Chair of Theoretical Physics in 1980.  He retired in 1996, becoming Professor Emeritus. 

Many years later, in 2012, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at CERN finally confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson.  

The following year, Professor Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Professor François Englert of the Université libre de Bruxelles. He became a Member of the Order of Companions of Honour, among the highest royal honours available, in the same year. 

A plaque commemorating the Professor’s legacy can be found at Roxburgh Street in Edinburgh. 

The installation marks the site where he first devised the theory of the Higgs boson particle. 

Professor Higgs died peacefully at home on 8 April. 

Peter Higgs was a remarkable individual – a truly gifted scientist whose vision and imagination have enriched our knowledge of the world that surrounds us.

His pioneering work has motivated thousands of scientists, and his legacy will continue to inspire many more for generations to come.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal of the University of Edinburgh

Related links

Online book of remembrance

Image credit: Peter Tuffy/University of Edinburgh