Peter Higgs Dead at 94

( – Scientists, no matter their field of study, have an important role. While most carry out their research quietly their whole careers, there are some that make an impact so great, that they have theories, particles, and the like named after them. Peter Higgs, a British theoretical physicist, was one such figure. He recently passed away at the age of 94.

Higgs was born in 1929 to Thomas and Gertrude Higgs, a sound engineer and homemaker, respectively. He garnered an interest in physics early on while attending Cotham Grammar School, which Paul Dirac, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, also attended. He studied mathematics in high school and went on to graduate from King’s College in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in physics. In 1954, he earned his PhD for his research on heat and molecules.

Armed with his degree, Higgs eventually landed a permanent job as a lecturer in Edinburgh. That’s when he began diverting his research to elementary particles. It would go on to be one of the most significant moves he made. His research led him to try “to solve the strong force,” an interaction that confines quarks into other subatomic particles, like protons and neutrons.

However, as is typical in science, new developments arose. In trying to solve strong force, he noted that a field, later dubbed the Higgs field, filled the entire universe and gave mass to elementary particles. A wave in that mass, causing particles to break off, was the result. It was then later named the Higgs boson after the physicist. It’s also known as the “God particle.”

Steven Weinberg and Gerardus ‘t Hooft, American and Dutch theoretical physicists, respectively, built upon it. Weinberg used it as a linchpin to unify weak and electromagnetic forces, while Hooft proved the scheme worked mathematically.

It would be decades before Higgs gained global recognition. In 2012, he was awarded the Nobel prize.

Higgs, an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh, sadly passed away due to a blood disorder on Monday, April 8, according to his close friend Alan Walker. He leaves behind two sons, Christopher and Jonathan, and two grandchildren.

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