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Nobel Prize winner Peter Higgs, who discovered so-called 'God particle,' dies at 94

Subatomic particle Higgs boson carries his name

By Chris Benson
Professor Peter Higgs (pictured in 2013) died Monday at his home in Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh in United Kingdom confirmed. Higgs, 94, received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 for his work on how the universe is governed at the subatomic level. File Photo by Graham Stuart/EPA-EFE
Professor Peter Higgs (pictured in 2013) died Monday at his home in Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh in United Kingdom confirmed. Higgs, 94, received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 for his work on how the universe is governed at the subatomic level. File Photo by Graham Stuart/EPA-EFE

April 9 (UPI) -- The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs died Monday at his home in Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh in United Kingdom confirmed.

Higgs, 94, received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 for his work going back to 1964 to show how the universe ties itself together.

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The university did not provide further details on the cause of death. Higgs had worked at the university since 1964, where he started as a 35-year-old assistant professor.

The Higgs boson -- also popularly called the "God particle" -- is an elementary particle essential to the Standard Model of particle physics associated with the Higgs field, an energy field that gives particles their mass.

Higgs' theory was proven in 2012 at Switzerland's Large Hadron Collider at Cern. He shared the Nobel Prize with Belgian theoretical physicist François Englert.

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Born May 29, 1929, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the son of a homemaker and a British Broadcasting Corporation sound engineer, Peter Ware Higgs grew up in Bristol when, at the age of 17, he began studies in mathematics at City of London School.

Higgs graduated in 1947 from King's College London with a bachelor's degree in physics and got his Ph.D. in 1954 and took a job as a permanent lecturer in 1960 at the University of Edinburgh.

"His prediction of the existence of the particle that bears his name was a deep insight, and its discovery at Cern in 2012 was a crowning moment that confirmed his understanding of the way the universe works," John Ellis, the former head of theory at Cern, told the Guardian.

"Without his theory, atoms could not exist and radioactivity would be a force as strong as electricity and magnetism.

In 2013, Higgs -- who did not use email, a cellphone or television -- said he only found out that he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics after a woman congratulated him on the street.

"How do I feel? Well, obviously I'm delighted and rather relieved in a sense that it's all over. It has been a long time coming," Higgs said at the time while speaking at a media conference at the University of Edinburgh. "In terms of later events, it seemed to me for many years that the experimental verification might not come in my lifetime."

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Sir Ian Blatchford, director of Britain's Science Museum, called Higgs "a brilliant scientist who helped us to understand the fundamental building blocks of our universe."

"We were honoured to celebrate his discovery of the Higgs boson through the Collider exhibition at the Science Museum and his work continues to inspire people today," the museum posted on X.

A member of ATLAS -- a collaboration of physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff from around the world -- called Higgs "a hero to the particle physics community."

"The particle that carries his name is perhaps the single most stunning example of how seemingly abstract mathematical ideas can make predictions which turn out to have huge physical consequences," Jon Butterworth, a member of the ATLAS collaboration and physics professor at University College London, said.

"Even when the universe seems empty this field (the Higgs particle) is there," explained the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences -- which gives the Nobel Award.

"Without it, we would not exist, because it is from contact with the field that particles acquire mass. The theory proposed by Englert and Higgs describes this process."

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