News In Depth
Low profile of particle physicist
Until recently, Professor Peter Higgs was as unknown to most of the world as the famous particle that bears his name.
Today the quiet physicist, now retired from the University of Edinburgh, is fast becoming a global celebrity as creator of the theory behind the "God particle".
Prof Higgs, 83, has been waiting since 1964 for science to catch up with his ideas about the Higgs boson.
It was in that year he dreamed up the concept in a moment of inspiration while walking in the Cairngorms.
Two scientific papers followed, the second of which was initially rejected and then finally published in the respected journal Physical Review Letters.
Prof Higgs's groundbreaking proposal was that particles acquire mass by interacting with an all-pervading field spread throughout the universe. The more they interact, the more massive and heavy they become.
A "boson" particle was needed to carry and transmit the effect of the field - the Higgs boson.
Peter Higgs was born in Newcastle in 1929, the son of a BBC sound engineer.
After his family moved to Bristol, he proved a brilliant pupil at Cotham Grammar School before going on to read theoretical physics at King's College London.
He was awarded first class honours in 1950, and after failing to secure a lectureship at King's College, set off for Scotland. In 2006, he retired from the University of Edinburgh, assuming the title of emeritus professor.
Never one to blow his own trumpet, Prof Higgs is described by friends and colleagues as "very unassuming" and shy. Some believe his retiring nature might even have held back his career. Now, despite his best efforts to keep a low profile, the spotlight is turning on him.