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Higgs 'overwhelmed' by Nobel Prize
Professor Peter Higgs, the scientist who gave his name to the Higgs boson particle, says he is "overwhelmed" to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
He shares the prize with Francois Englert of Belgium for their work in the "theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles".
The mechanism predicts a particle - the Higgs boson - which was discovered by a team from the European nuclear research facility (Cern) in Geneva, Switzerland, last year.
In a statement released through Edinburgh University, where Higgs, 84, is an emeritus professor, he said: "I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy.
"I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle and to thank my family, friends and colleagues for their support. I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research."
He hit upon the concept of a ''God particle'' during a walk in the Cairngorms national park in Scotland in 1964 when he started to consider the existence of a particle that gives matter its mass.
He wrote two scientific papers on his theory and was eventually published in the Physical Review Letters journal, sparking a 40-year hunt for the Higgs boson.
The announcement was made at a Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences ceremony in Stockholm.
The awards were set up by businessman Alfred Nobel and were first given out in 1901 to honor achievements in science, literature and peace.
Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea, principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: "We are delighted at the news of this Nobel Prize award and congratulate Professor Peter Higgs on his achievement.
"The discovery of the Higgs particle will underpin the next generation of physics research, and this accolade is worthy recognition of its significance. Professor Higgs' work will continue to inspire scientists at Edinburgh and beyond."
Sir John Arbuthnott, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's National Academy, said: " Peter Higgs is one of the great modern scientific minds.
"I am delighted Peter has been awarded a Nobel Prize for physics. This well-deserved honour is the ultimate recognition of the extraordinary contribution he has made to the understanding of the fundamental nature of matter".
"Peter maintains the Scottish tradition of inspired excellence in science and follows in the footsteps of outstanding RSE Fellows like James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin, whose work profoundly affect our lives today.
"Given the intense world wide competition for the brightest minds and the link between that and future wealth creation, the ability of Scotland to continue to attract and retain the finest minds is now even more important."
"The Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh extend their heartfelt congratulations to one of our own, who has rightly received the highest of scientific accolades."
In March, Professor Higgs was given the Edinburgh Medal at a ceremony in the Scottish capital to recognise his significant contributions to the field of science and technology. Previous recipients have included three Nobel Prize winners.
He was also made a Companion of Honour in the New Year Honours list and the Higgs Prize was set up by the Scottish Government to recognise school pupils who excel in physics.
Other researchers, including Professor Englert, were also working separately on the same idea as Professor Higgs and published papers around the same time.
The Higgs boson explains why other elementary particles, the basic building blocks of the Universe, have mass.
Cern director-general Rolf Heuer congratulated the pair.
He said: "I'm thrilled that this year's Nobel Prize has gone to particle physics.
"The discovery of the Higgs boson at Cern last year, which validates the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, marks the culmination of decades of intellectual effort by many people around the world."
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond also congratulated Prof Higgs, who is an emeritus professor at Edinburgh University.
He said: "Today, the Higgs boson, which carries his name, is a scientific discovery which is renowned the world over. This richly deserved honour not only highlights the quality of research carried out in Scotland, but also how science inspires us to look for answers to fundamental questions about life and the universe.
"Earlier this year Professor Higgs agreed to a new Scottish Government prize to be named in his honour, recognising the brightest young school physicists. His commitment to encouraging our next generation of scientists is well-known, and the first winners of the Higgs Prize will be announced later this year."
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Congratulations to Britain's Professor Peter Higgs, who is sharing this year's #NobelPrize for Physics."
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts Minister said: "I congratulate Professor Peter Higgs on his Nobel Prize. This is the 23rd Nobel Prize for Physics to come to the UK and continues a long tradition of scientific discovery.
"We should also celebrate the efforts of the thousands of scientists and engineers all over the world who have worked on the Large Hadron Collider and who have participated in the long search for the Higgs boson.
"Our new Nobel Laureate thoroughly deserves his prize. It's an incredible endorsement of the quality of UK science."
Dr Frances Saunders, president of the Institute of Physics, said: "The work undertaken to discover the Higgs - from the original theories to the construction of the world's most powerful particle-smasher - has led to a very exciting and productive period in physics research. It has been a long journey but one that has inspired a generation to engage with the subject.
"With the existence of the Higgs boson confirmed, explaining why the fundamental building blocks of nature acquire mass, we can now move on to the next challenges to our understanding such as the phenomena of dark matter and quantum gravity."
Professor Michael Duff, chair of theoretical physics at Imperial College London, said the Higgs boson theory will remain part of human understanding "for centuries".
He said: " I am delighted to hear that Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have won this year's Nobel Prize for Physics, which is richly deserved. Their seminal contributions, along with those of Tom Kibble here at Imperial College, explaining how elementary particles acquire a mass, form a vital part of the Standard Model of particle physics, pioneered by Imperial Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam.
"Their ideas in theoretical physics, vindicated in 2012 by the discovery at Cern of the Higgs boson, will persist as part of human understanding of the physical universe for centuries to come, long after today's stars of politics, business and entertainment have been forgotten."
The Princess Royal, in her role as chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, reflected on the Nobel announcement during an engagement at the university today.
She said: "As chancellor, I'm delighted because I can claim all sorts of benefits for the university (which is) hugely proud to have that connection with Professor Higgs."
She said she thought her predecessor in the role, the Duke of Edinburgh, would be "even more delighted" about the announcement.
"For all of us, it's really good news," she told the gathering.
The Duke recently met Prof Higgs during an August visit to the Royal Society of Edinburgh - Philip's first official engagement following an operation and period of convalescence.
In a fuller statement to add to his earlier tweet, the Prime Minister said: "This brilliant achievement is richly-deserved recognition of his lifetime of dedicated research and his passion for science. It is also a credit to the world-leading British universities in which this research was carried out, including the University of Edinburgh, Imperial and Kings College London.
"It took nearly 50 years and thousands of great minds to discover the Higgs Boson after Professor Higgs proposed it, and he and all those people should be extremely proud."
Imran Khan, chief executive of the British Science Association, joined the legions of well-wishers offering congratulations to Prof Higgs.
He said: " As well as deepening our understanding of the universe we live in, Higgs's prediction excited the public and captured our imaginations, taking us all on the same journey that the Cern scientists were on - we hope it will leave more people than ever interested and engaged with science."