Scientists in Catfight to Rename Higgs

Name makes Peter Higgs a 'rock star,' fellow theorist complains
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2013 2:10 AM CDT
Updated Apr 23, 2013 6:21 AM CDT
Scientists Push to Give Higgs New Name
University of Edinburgh emeritus professor Peter Higgs, speaks during a press conference at the European Organization for Nuclear Research.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Fabrice Coffrini, File)

Amid rumors that this year's Nobel Prize for Physics will go to the Higgs boson theory, some scientists say the particle's name should be changed so that all the glory doesn't go to British physicist Peter Higgs. At a press conference last year to announce the particle's discovery, Higgs "was treated as something of a rock star and the rest of us were barely recognized by most of the audience," American scientist Carl Hagen tells the BBC. Hagen is considered to have helped develop the theory, along with Higgs and four others.

Most scientists, however, agree that calling it the Englert-Higgs-Guralnik-Kibble-Brout-Hagen particle would be too unwieldy—and the acronyms aren't much better. Hagen favors the name Standard Model Scalar Meson. In a BBC interview last week, Higgs himself argued that it should really be called the Goldstone particle after Cambridge physicist Jeffrey Goldstone. Higgs explained that the "God particle" nickname for the Higgs started out as a joke, after an editor rejected an author's plan "to call it 'that goddamn particle' because it was clear it was going to be a tough job finding it experimentally." (More Higgs boson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.