Peter Higgs with his portrait (credit: Callum Bennetts/Maverick Photo Agency)
By Michael Banks
As the old cliché goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. For Peter Higgs, a sighting of the Higgs boson, the sub-atomic particle he predicted over 40 years ago that is thought to give particles their intrinsic masses, would be worth more than a few words of congratulations – possibly a Nobel Prize.
But until the Large Hadron Collider starts up again later this year — or the Tevatron fails to spot the Higgs first — he will just have to make do with the picture.
A portrait of the 79-year-old physicist was unveiled on Tuesday at the University of Edinburgh showing a younger, slightly more rounded Higgs looking at the remnants of a particle collision.
The oil-painting, commissioned by the University of Edinburgh and painted by Scottish based artist Ken Currie, shows Higgs holding a pair of glasses and looking both towards the unseen artist and – as seen in the mirror behind – to the debris of colliding particles.
Speaking at the launch of the portrait at the university, Higgs said he was quite relieved the artist didn’t make him hold difficult poses for the portrait.
“It is a great surprise to me that the university wanted to paint my portrait,” Higgs said. “I would not have predicted it 30 years ago.” Indeed, he was rather busy predicting other things.