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84-Year-Old Higgs Did Not Know He Won Nobel Physics Prize For Boson Particle Theory

posted 11 Oct 2013, 08:07 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2013, 08:08 ]

British scientist Professor Peter Higgs confesses he did not know he'd won the Nobel Prize for physics until a former neighbour stopped him in the street to congratulate him.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, UK (OCTOBER 11, 2013) (ITN) -  Speaking publicly for the first time since he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday (October 8), Britain's Professor Peter Higgs confessed he did not know he'd been chosen for the prestigious award until a former neighbour congratulated him in the street.

The 84-year-old does not own a phone and had gone out for lunch just before theNobel committee made their announcement. Higgs didn't find out the news for several hours.

"A lady...congratulated me on the news and I said 'Oh, what news?' and so she told me that her daughter had phoned from London to alert her to the fact that I had got this prize. I found out more about it obviously when I got home and started reading the messages," he said during a press conference at Edinburgh University on Friday (October 11).

Higgs shared the Nobel with Belgium's Francois Englert for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson - the particle key to explaining why elementary matter has mass.

The two scientists had been favourites to share the 8 million Swedish crown ($1.25 million) prize after their theoretical work was finally vindicated by experiments at the CERN research centre's gigantic particle collider.

"I am obviously delighted and rather relieved that in a sense it is all over because it's been a long time coming," said Higgs.

Higgs developed his theoretical research at the University of Edinburgh and published the Higgs boson theory in 1964.

"Although people, a lot of people seem to think that I did all this single-handed it was actually part of a theoretical programme which had been started in 1960," he said.

The insight has been hailed as one of the most important in the understanding of the cosmos. Without the Higgs mechanism all particles would travel at the speed of light and atoms would not exist.