Peter Higgs

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Peter Higgs in 2009

Peter Ware Higgs FRS FRSE (29 May 19298 April 2024) was a British theoretical physicist and an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his 1960s proposal of broken symmetry in electroweak theory, explaining the origin of mass of elementary particles in general and of the W and Z bosons in particular. This so-called Higgs mechanism, which had several inventors besides Higgs, predicts the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson (often described as "the most sought-after particle in modern physics").


  • This summer I have discovered something totally useless.
    • Writing to a colleague about his proposal for a particle at the origin of mass (1964), as quoted in The Hunt for the Higgs Boson, Science Scotland, issue no. 3.
  • When you look at a vacuum in a quantum theory of fields, it isn't exactly nothing.
  • The way that the background fields generates mass is rather like the way in which when light passes through a transparent medium like glass or water, it gets slowed down. It no longer travels with the fundamental velocity of light c. And that's the way to think of the generation of mass.
    • in video Meet Peter Higgs by CERN (July 2004).
  • There is a sort of mythology that grows up about what happened, which is different from what really did happen.
  • It’s about understanding! Understanding the world!
    • Explaining what led him to study theoretical physics, as quoted by Ian Sample, in The god of small things, The Guardian, Saturday 17 November 2007.
  • The point came when people were doing things I didn't feel competent to do myself. I'm not being modest, I honestly get lost. I was lucky in spotting what I did when I did, but there comes a point where you realise what you're doing is not going to be much good.
    • Explaining how he came to follow the race for the discovery of the Higgs boson from the sidelines, as quoted by Ian Sample, in The god of small things, The Guardian, Saturday 17 November 2007.
  • Higgs mechanism should be renamed the “ABEGHHK'tH mechanism”
    • During the opening of one conference Peter Higgs attended to. The name is after all of the people (Philip Warren Anderson, Robert Brout, François Englert, Gerry Guralnik, Dick Hagen, Peter Higgs, Tom Kibble and Gerard 't Hooft) who discovered it, or rediscovered it.
  • It's very nice to be right sometimes ... it has certainly been a long wait.
    • In a press conference asked whether he felt a sense of vindication. [1] [2]


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