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So the discovery of the Higgs boson has earned François Englert and Peter Higgs the Nobel for physics. Top news! To have a theory experimentally confirmed half a century later is something else. Apparently Prof Higgs was unavailable for comment having gone on holiday sans phone due to the media attention. Fair play. Way back when Richard Feynman won the Noble he was copped by a press man and said – approximately – “If I could explain what I did to win the Noble Prize in physics in five minutes it wouldn’t have been worth the Noble Prize”. Quite.

There is a quiet lament though. Englert’s colleague died shortly before CERN announced that the LHC’s Atlas had clocked the Higgs Boson. And two Americans and another Brit came within an ace of publishing before Peter Higgs… Ah, well.

At least they won’t have to deal with fame!

And despite the video at the top I have always been annoyed by the Higgs Boson being reffed as the “God particle”. So apparently has Prof Higgs who has taken-up cudgels against Prof Dawkins on the matter.

It is a solution to one problem – a massive one (joke intended) – but one problem. There is always plus ultra. But it is a mighty achievement and a wonderful thing that two old men will die knowing they were right.

Because I always worried that Peter Higgs (who is 84) would die before he knew he was right and he has waited nearly 50 years to raise a glass over this. Well, I have raised a glass to him tonight as well. And does it need saying he is a Geordie by birth? Of course he is!

François Englert and Peter Higgs – I salute you both.

The physiology/medicine prize seemed to go to three good sticks for something that is also cool. I await chemistry – sort of.

Excellent news so far.


  1. RAB says:

    Because I always worried that Peter Higgs (who is 84) would die before he knew he was right

    He KNEW he was right. He’s a proper Scientist, not a consensus jockey. Cotham Grammar, Bristol too. I used to live around the corner in Hampton road before I moved here. Some of my friends went there. Best they managed was to learn to play the Bass Guitar badly ;-)

  2. NickM says:

    He didn’t know he was right. Oh, he had a hunch like when you bet on a horse but there is nowt like seeing it cross the finish-line! He had to wait for the LHC to absolutely know..

  3. RAB says:

    He is an incredibly modest man, but it was more than a hunch. You, Nick, feel the poetry of maths and physics, the Rightness of the rhythm and the metre…Higgs knows that feeling too. He was right and I am damned pleased for him to have it confirmed, before he becomes stardust again.

  4. Lynne says:

    Nice to see that Nobel prizes do get awarded to real scientists.

  5. NickM says:

    Surfer dude physicist (I get that – it’s applied fluid dynamics – my neck of the woods) E8 theory (it’s part of group theory and very beautiful) and that’s ultra cool. I have posted in the past about E8 but it don’t mean nothing without a proton-proton synchrotron saying it is so. Higgs et al needed this to make it so….

    At Uni I had to build a jam-jar magnetometer. With my ex-girlf and a paper chart recorder. I’m not sure which of the two were most fucking annoying. In principle we could have (this would have been tricky but I am cunning) could have been interfaced to a BBC Micro (still great at the time for interfacing) but Atlas is a Deathstar to my Sopwith Camel. I loved that thing mind. It didn’t detect any radio auroras (there weren’t any) but I did know much about the car movement details of my profs – some of whom were tardy.

  6. Julie near Chicago says:

    Nick, I had missed the photo before. Wow! Thanks so much for posting.

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