Will Professor Higgs finally get the Nobel prize?
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Sunday 06 October 2013
It is never a sure bet to put money on who will win the Nobel Prize for Physics but this year the odds are that the greatest prize in science will go to a self-effacing grandfather living in quiet retirement in Edinburgh.
This Tuesday the world will know whether Peter Higgs, 84, emeritus professor of physics at Edinburgh University, has won the Nobel prize that so many of his colleagues believe he richly deserves. Many physicists believe the time has come for the Nobel committee to recognise Higgs's seminal proposal half a century ago for the existence of a sub-atomic particle or "boson" that bears his name.
Last year, researchers working on the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, in Switzerland, found convincing evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson, which the scientist first proposed in 1964 to explain why matter has mass and why the Universe therefore has a structure.
Earlier this year, Cern reinforced this finding with further data, putting the existence of the Higgs boson beyond any reasonable doubt.
Professor Frank Close, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University, said: "I certainly hope he gets it this year. I think last year the discovery at Cern came too late for the Nobel committee but there is no such excuse this year. If the thing were ever to be recognised, I can't see why it shouldn't be this year."
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