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Higgs seen on canvas

higgs potrait.jpg
Peter Higgs with his portrait (credit: Callum Bennetts/Maverick Photo Agency)

By Michael Banks

As the old clich̩ 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 Рpossibly 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.

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  1. Like so many at the very top, Prof Higgs is as modest as ever. Asked about his relatively early retirement (see recent interview in NS) he claimed that he had difficulty keeping up with the maths of gauge theory when the Higgs mechanism started to attract worldwide interest. He then “got interested in supersymmetry, only to find that challenging too”, so eventually decided to give the whole business a rest. Humbling how the very best sometimes decide to go off and do something completely different…

  2. Yves Grauls

    Why is it always ONLY about Peter Higgs?
    Why does everybody seem to forget that Peter Brout and Francois Englert discovered this particle and published their paper on the subject 6 months before Peter Higgs did?
    Why do we call it the ‘Higgs bozon’ anyway?
    Why not, as Brout and Englert propose the ‘scalar bozon’ or, more correctly the ‘BEH bozon’ (Brout-Englert-Higgs)?
    Peter Higgs never mentions Brout and Englert, either. It is a shame for such a famous scientist not to have recognition for his peers.


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