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How significant would the discovery of the Higgs boson be?

By James Dacey

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His eponymous particle may be famously elusive, but Peter Higgs has been seemingly omnipresent in Bristol over the past couple of days. He has spent today at Physics World headquarters, having appeared last night at the Bristol Festival of Ideas, and he has just shot off to the University of Bristol to meet with academics and give a special colloquium. Last night he also managed to squeeze in an appearance on the local news programme BBC Points West, which documented Higgs returning to Cotham School, where he was a pupil for five years. You can read full details of Higgs’ Bristol trip in this blog entry by Physics World editor Matin Durrani, who spent time with Higgs today to record an interview that will be appearing on

In Higgs’ talk last night, he was joined on stage by the science editor of the Observer, Robin McKie, and naturally the questions turned to the particle that now bears his name. When asked about how he came up with his boson, Higgs lived up to his famous modesty, explaining how the idea had emerged without grand designs from his work on a problem relating to superconductivity. He seemed slightly embarrassed that the particle has been named after him when there were several other theorists working on the same issues.

Higgs was also humble when questioned about how he felt about the vast investments that have been made in constructing particle accelerators to hunt (in part) for the fruit of his work. When asked by a member of the audience whether he would celebrate the discovery of his boson, Higgs replied in his typically understated manner that he has a bottle of champagne left over from Christmas, but he that he hadn’t yet “put it in the fridge”.

In this week’s Facebook poll we want to know how you feel about the hunt for the Higgs boson.

How significant would the discovery of the Higgs boson be?

It would answer the biggest outstanding question in physics
It would answer the most important question in particle physics
There are other more important questions in particle physics

Let us know by visiting our Facebook page. And please feel free to explain your response by posting a comment on the Facebook poll.

In last week’s poll we asked “What is your primary source of online physics news?”. 78% of respondents said they get the majority of their updates from specialist news sites. 9% said they rely on general news sites. 6% use social media, another 6% rely on blogs, and just 1% get their news via Internet radio and podcasts.

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to hearing from you in this week’s poll.

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