At the Edinburgh Book Festival

Graham appeared onstage today with Taylor Downing, author of the fine Secret Warriors. In the audience was Peter Higgs, co-winner of last year’s Nobel Prize for physics. Over lunch with Graham beforehand, Peter said that he was now making progress with his aim ‘to retire from retirement’.

Peter talked at length of about the Nobel Prize and his regrets that others could not share in it. As the Prize was shared by him and François Englert, with no third recipient, the Committee evidently wanted to acknowledge that Robert Brout (co-author with Englert of a foundational paper on the symmetry-breaking mechanism) would have been a third winner if he had been alive (he died in 2011). Peter invited Brout’s widow to the Nobel ceremony, along with a few of the CERN experimenters who supplied the first evidence that the Higgs boson exists.

If another theoretician had shared the Prize, Peter would have liked it have been Tom Kibble.

Graham was surprised that Peter did not know Brout and Englert well. Peter met Brout at a conference on the Standard Model at Stanford in 1992, and they got on well. But Higgs and Englert met for the first time at CERN, when the apparent discovery of a new particle—subsequently demonstrated to be the Higgs—was presented on 4 July 2012.


Book signing