Pioneers Of Science
Peter Higgs (1929 – Present)
Peter Higgs is well known as a theoretical physicist. Matter, according to contemporary physics, is made up of a collection of particles that serve as building blocks. Forces exist between these particles and are mediated by another set of particles. The majority of particles have a mass, which is a basic characteristic. In 1964, a theory was proposed by Peter Higgs and the team of Francios Englert and Robert Brout about why particles have mass. In 2012, the CERN laboratory experimentally confirmed the existence of Higgs particle and got Nobel Prize in physics in 2013.
Peter Higgs was born on 29 May 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne’s Elswick area. In 1950, he earned a First Class Honours degree in Physics from King’s College, University of London. He got him an MSc degree a year later and immediately began research, first under the direction of Charles Coulson and then under the supervision of Christopher Longuet-Higgins. In 1954, he received a Ph.D. for his thesis titled ‘Some Problems in the Theory of Molecular Vibrations,’ which sparked a life-long interest in the application of symmetry concepts to physical systems.
In 1954, Peter Higgs enrolled at the University of Edinburgh for his second year as a Senior Student of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and stayed for an additional year as a Senior Research Fellow. In 1956, he went to London to take up an ICI Research Fellowship, spending a year at University College and little more than a year at Imperial College before accepting a position as Temporary Lecturer in Mathematics at University College. Peter Higgs returned to Edinburgh in October 1960 to take up a lectureship in mathematical physics at the Tait Institute.
In 1970, he was appointed Reader; in 1974, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; and in 1980, he was appointed to the Personal Chair of Theoretical Physics. In 1983, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1991, Peter was named a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. He retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Edinburgh in 1996. In 2008, he was elected to the University of Swansea’s Faculty of Arts, and in 2013, he was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of the Arts and the Science Museum London’s Faculty of Arts.
- Hughes Medal, Royal Society (with T. W. B. Kibble), 1981
- Rutherford Medal, Institute of Physics (with T. W. B. Kibble), 1984
- Scottish Science Award, Saltire Society and Royal Bank of Scotland, 1990
- James Scott Prize Lectureship, Royal Society of Edinburgh (delivered April 1995), 1993
- Paul Dirac Medal and Prize, Institute of Physics, 1997
- High Energy and Particle Physics Prize, European Physical Society (with R. Brout, F. Englert), 1997
- Royal Medal, Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2000
- Wolf Prize in Physics (with R. Brout and F. Englert), 2004
- Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture and Medal, Stockholm Academy of Sciences, 2009
- J. Sakurai Prize, American Physical Society (with R. Brout, F. Englert, G. S. Guralnik, C. R. Hagen and T. W. B. Kibble), 2010
- Higgs Medal, Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2012
- Nonino ‘Man of Our Time’ Prize, 2013
- Edinburgh Medal of the Edinburgh International Science Festival (with CERN), 2013
- Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research (with F. Englert and CERN), 2013
- Nobel Prize in Physics (with F. Englert), 2013
- “Theoretical Determination of Electron Density in Organic Molecules,” (with C.A. Coulson, S.L. Altmann, and N. H. March) Nature 168, 1039 (1951).
- “Perturbation Method for the Calculation of Molecular Vibration Frequencies I,” J. Chem. Phys, 21, 1131 (1953).
- “A Method for Computing Zero-Point Energies,” J. Chem. Phys. 21, 1330 (1953).
- “Vibration Spectra of Helical Molecules,” Proc. Roy. Soc. A220, 472 (1953).
- “Vibrational Modifications of the Electron Density in Molecular Crystals I,” Acta. Cryst. 6, 232 (1953).
- “Perturbation Method for the Calculation of Molecular Vibration Frequencies II,” J. Chem. Phys. 23, 1448 (1955).
- “Perturbation Method for the Calculation of Molecular Vibration Frequencies III,” J. Chem. Phys. 23, 1450 (1955).
- “Vibrational Modifications of the Electron Density in Molecular Crystals II,” Acta. Cryst. 8, 99 (1955).
- “A Method for Calculating Thermal Vibration Amplitudes from Spectroscopic Data” Acta. Cryst. 8, 619 (1955).
Article by: Shehzad Siddiqui