Professor Peter Higgs to get freedom of Edinburgh

Professor Peter Higgs is set to be granted the Freedom of Edinburgh. Picture: Getty
Professor Peter Higgs is set to be granted the Freedom of Edinburgh. Picture: Getty
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God particle scientist Professor Peter Higgs is to be given a rare honour by his adopted home city.

The acclaimed theoretical physicist will be awarded the freedom of the city of Edinburgh in recognition of his “immense contribution to science”.

The ceremony, expected to take place in private early next year, will see him become one of only a few living recipients of the award, joining the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Sir Chris Hoy.

Prof Higgs said: “I am extremely pleased to be offered the freedom of the city of Edinburgh, the city that I have grown to love and has been my adopted home for almost all of my working life.”

He has lived and worked there for over 50 years and it was where he came up with the idea which has earned him worldwide fame. He predicted the existence of the Higgs boson in 1964.

Because of its fundamental importance in giving all other particles mass, it was dubbed the “God particle”.

A particle confirmed as being a type of Higgs boson was finally detected last year by the Large Hadron Collider, a giant atom-smashing machine near Geneva in Switzerland.

The find earned the professor a share in the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Details of the latest honour for the scientist were announced by City of Edinburgh Council.

The honour is granted to individuals deemed to have distinguished themselves through their work or efforts, or in recognition of the respect and high esteem in which they are held by the people of the city.

Prof Higgs’s contribution to theoretical physics has earned him numerous awards including the Edinburgh Medal and the Edinburgh Award.

The freedom of the city award is subject to councillors’ approval at a meeting on Thursday.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson submitted the motion to be considered by the council. It states that the local authority “congratulates Professor Peter Higgs for his outstanding hard work, lifetime commitment and achievement for winning the Nobel Prize for Physics”.

Mr Wilson said: “I had the pleasure of presenting Peter with the Edinburgh Medal on behalf of the Edinburgh International Science Festival earlier this year and I think it is absolutely right that we, the people of Edinburgh, recognise his immense contribution to science.

“His achievements with the University of Edinburgh are of global significance and this latest honour will be further evidence of the high esteem in which he is quite deservedly held, not just by his peers but by the people of the city he now calls home.”