Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Celebrating Professor Higgs and his Boson

A whole week has gone by since the announcement and I haven't yet told you how thrilled I am that our very own Scottish boffin, Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Yes, you deserve better from Blogville's Special Science Advisor.

Now I have blogged before about Professor Higgs and his boson, and I am pleased to report that, of all my 404 published posts to date, The Higgs Boson Diet Plan has been the most popular by far, with over 1350 page views, more than double the number recorded for the nearest contender. Yes really! Who knew my readers had such a passion for particle physics?

So I hope you won't all be too disappointed today when I steer clear of explaining the significance of the Nobel Prize winning research - after all, it was published nearly half a century ago - and instead say something about Peter Higgs the person.

What a nice chap he sounds. Shy, modest, retiring, brilliant, this eighty-four year old still does not own a mobile phone. When journalists were unable to contact him after the prize was announced, it was suspected in some quarters that he had disappeared off into the Scottish Highlands for a walking holiday, to avoid the predictable press brouhaha. (This turned out not to be true, but the fact that it was thought likely tells you a lot.) Also admirable is the fact that Professor Higgs apparently dislikes his boson being referred to as 'the God particle', in part because, although he is an atheist, he does not want to offend religious folk.

My in-depth research (i.e. googling Peter Higgs + dog) has, I'm afraid, failed to yield any indication that Scotland's most famous living physicist is a dog lover, but one can live in hope.

Below are some pictures of my weekend walk in Glen Tanar. Yes I admit that these are not strictly relevant to the rest of this post, other than that this is surely a place which would appeal to a distinguished Nobel laureate who prefers to lead a quiet life.


  1. Bertie,
    Well done to Mr Higgs! Well, I'm very pleased the prize went to a Scot, and a very lovely sounding man too. In fact, he is the same age as my owner, although my person shows no signs of becoming a physicsy genius any time soon!
    Glen Tanar has always looked lovely any season, but I would never know, due to the fact nobody bothers to bring me there when they go. Eve went just the other week, and was I invited? No.
    Your photo of you and Gail is very good!
    Pippa :)

  2. Bertie!!! Congrats to Prof. Higgs...you know mom worked with physicists for 25 years and she is happy to say at least 1/2 of them were owned by K9!! Did you know that Physicist like to play (bucky) balls?
    I love the pictures from your walk and especially the last one with you and Gail
    Hugs Madi your bfff

  3. I feel so shallow compared to you, Bertie, me old mucker....anyway. Fancy a pint? Deccy x

  4. That is an excellent photo of you and Gail, that one at the last! You both look happy and healthy which is a good way for anyone to be!


  5. Professor Higgs is obviously brilliant but also sounds like a wonderful human - imagine someone being modest and shy after winning such an honor!

    Beautiful pictures!

    Your pal , Pip

  6. Erudite and entertaining as usual Bertie. We think that if Professor Higgs has a dog, it must be a terrier. And we loved the pictures of your beautiful walk!

    Gus and Teka

  7. Well done him and we think The Hogs Bottom is very important to the future of physics. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. We are hoping he is a dog person too! He seems kind of cool that way.

    Monty and Harlow

  9. A great tribute to a great man! Well done, Bertie!

    According to the Standard Model, it is highly unlikely that someone that smart does not have a dog. Ergo, it is highly likely that Dr Higgs has a dog. We may find some experimental evidence at some point, but it may take 49 years :)

    Now tell me, Bertie, does the following joke work?
    "What's the dumbest particle? The Higgs Bozo!"

  10. We thought you were in the running Bertie
    Benny & Lily

  11. Hey Bertie!
    Wow, congrats to the brainiac Dr Higgs! I don't blame him for avoiding the crazy reporters. Who needs that?!? BOL I'm hoping for a scientist to discover how a dog can eat anything he wants and not gain weight. Now that's worth a prize!! BOL Great pix of your walkie!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, COP

  12. We aren't in the same category as Professor Higgs....we read the title as Celebrating Professor Higgs and his Boston....so we were picturing him with a little snub nosed terrier! It is pre coffee this morning.

    Love the walking area....just gorgeous (and not raining)

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  13. Bravo to Pawfessor Higgs!!! THAT is super.

    That is a BEAUTIFUL place fur your walkie!!!

  14. Yes, we think Professor Higgs would like to walk there with you! We know we would and we are super smart!

    Wyatt and Stanzie

  15. We think he sounds like a very grounded guy. Canada is celebrating our first Nobel Laureate in Literature thanks to Alice Munro. Lady is ashamed to admit she doesn't think she has read any of her books. This will now be on her list! Congrats to Scotland for a win! Lee and Phod

  16. Dear Bertie,
    Well done to Prof. Higgs. Even though he doesn't mention dogs, I am sure if he studied your movements long enough he would come up with an even better theory on how matter, or dogs that matter, move(s).

    I need to add, that my human has just got a book mentioned in one of your posts (The Old Ways) to read, so she might be quiet for some time if your account of what it is like is correct. In return, and in the interest of keeping our main food providers happy, if Gail is looking for an interesting read, tell her that my human was pleased to learn a young New Zealand author won the Man Booker Prize yesterday. "The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton is set on the West Coast where my human's ancestors searched for gold many many years ago, so my human can't wait to read that book too, despite the novel being the longest book to ever win the prize.


    1. Riley, does your human know that Robert Macfarlane was the chairman of the Man Booker Prize judging panel?

    2. Bertie,
      It is a very small world, and there is a certain symmetry when we are on opposite sides of this planet, that my human mentioned to you and Gail a book that the author (you mentioned in one of your blog posts) and his team of judges thought worthy of the Man Booker prize. My human heard The Luminaries had won on the TV news (she has this massive book ready to read after "The Old Ways"), but only found out who the chairman was after she posted her comment to you while reading the judges comments online!

  17. Bertie the ferns look so beautiful. Perhaps someday you just might run into Professor Higgs. Why he has probably read of your writings also.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot