It Took 48 Years, but Higgs Lived to See Boson Found

Nobel Prize-winning physicist dies at 94
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 9, 2024 2:30 PM CDT
Physicist Who Proposed 'God Particle' Dies at 94
Professor Peter Higgs at the Science Museum, London on Dec. 11, 2013.   (Sean Dempsey/PA via AP)

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the existence of the so-called "god particle" that helped explain how matter formed after the Big Bang, has died at age 94, the University of Edinburgh said Tuesday. The university, where Higgs was emeritus professor, said he died Monday "peacefully at home following a short illness." Higgs predicted the existence of a new particle—the so-called Higgs boson—in 1964. But it would be almost 50 years before the particle's existence could be confirmed at the Large Hadron Collider. More from the AP:

  • Higgs' theory related to how subatomic particles that are the building blocks of matter get their mass. This theoretical understanding is a central part of the so-called Standard Model, which describes the physics of how the world is constructed.

  • Edinburgh University said his groundbreaking 1964 paper demonstrated how "elemental particles achieved mass through the existence of a new sub-atomic particle" that became known as the Higgs boson.
  • In 2012, in one of the biggest breakthroughs in physics in decades, scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced that they had finally found a Higgs boson using the $10 billion particle collider built in a 17-mile tunnel under the Swiss-French border.
  • Higgs won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, alongside Francois Englert of Belgium, who independently came up with the same theory. Edinburgh University Vice Chancellor Peter Mathieson said Higgs, who was born in the Scottish capital, was "a remarkable individual—a truly gifted scientist whose vision and imagination have enriched our knowledge of the world that surrounds us."
  • The New York Times describes Higgs as "a modest man who eschewed the trappings of fame and preferred the outdoors." He once told the Times that after his name became attached to the theory as well as the particle itself, he had been calling it the "A.B.E.G.H.H.K.H mechanism," to include everybody who had contributed to the theory—Anderson, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen, Higgs, Kibble and 't Hooft.
(More Peter Higgs stories.)

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