Physicist Peter Higgs who discovered 'God Particle' dies aged 94

Professor Higgs is renowned the world over for his prediction of the existence of the new particle.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Professor Peter Higgs – for whom the subatomic particle the Higgs boson was named – has died aged 94, the University of Edinburgh said.

He passed away peacefully at home on Monday, April 8 following a short illness.

Professor Higgs is renowned the world over for his prediction of the existence of a new particle – the so-called Higgs boson – which he first proposed in 1964.

It would be almost 50 years before the particle’s existence could be confirmed, with experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern finally confirming Prof Higgs’ theory in 2012.

Professor Peter Higgs stands in front of a photograph of the Large Hadron Collider.Getty Images

He was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work in 2013, along with Francois Englert.

The director general of Cern, Fabiola Gianotti, described Prof Higgs as an “immensely inspiring figure”.

She continued: “Besides his outstanding contributions to particle physics, Peter was a very special person, an immensely inspiring figure for physicists across the world, a man of rare modesty, a great teacher and someone who explained physics in a very simple and yet profound way.

“An important piece of Cern’s history and accomplishments is linked to him. I am very saddened, and I will miss him sorely.”

The First Minister of Scotland has said the “life and work” of Professor Peter Higgs “will inspire generations of scientists to come”.

In a post to X, Humza Yousaf wrote: “My thoughts are with Professor Higgs’ family, friends, colleagues and generations of students.

“A visionary whose idea, and its discovery some 48 years later, is transforming our understanding of the universe.

“His life and work will inspire generations of scientists to come.”

Broadcaster and scientist Brian Cox paid tribute to Prof Higgs.

“I was fortunate enough to meet him several times, and beyond being a famous physicist – I think to his embarrassment at times – he was always charming and modest,” he said.

“And of course his name will be remembered as long as we do physics in the form of the Higgs Boson.

Dara O Briain has paid tribute to Professor Peter Higgs by sharing details of a moment which “delighted” him when he interviewed the late physicist.

In a post to X, the Irish comedian wrote: “A little nod to Peter Higgs, to mark his passing.

“I interviewed him at Cheltenham Science Festival a few years ago, and asked him to sign this silly note, which he was delighted to do!

“There are only two of these in existence (a certain other Irish comic has the other). RIP.”

Prof Higgs was a great teacher and mentor, inspiring generations of young scientists, the University of Edinburgh said.

“Peter Higgs was a remarkable individual – a truly gifted scientist whose vision and imagination have enriched our knowledge of the world that surrounds us,” said Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, principal and vice chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

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“His pioneering work has motivated thousands of scientists, and his legacy will continue to inspire many more for generations to come.”

Prof Higgs was born in Newcastle in 1929, the son of a BBC sound engineer.

After his family moved to Bristol, he proved a brilliant pupil at Cotham Grammar School before going on to read theoretical physics at King’s College London.

A five-decade-long career then began when he graduated with a First Class Honours in 1950.

After failing to secure a lectureship at King’s College, he set off for Scotland and the University of Edinburgh. He remained there until retiring from the post in 2006 and assumed the title of emeritus professor.

His contribution to physics has long been recognised within the scientific world – with more than 10 honorary degrees and dozens of academic prizes since the 1980s.

But he once revealed he had turned down a knighthood in 1999 as he did not want any title.

He did accept recognition from the Queen in 2014 when he was appointed a Companion of Honour during a ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse – an honour that does not bring a title.

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