Peter Higgs turned down knighthood from Tony Blair

Professor Peter Higgs: Turned down knighthood in 1999. Picture: Getty
Professor Peter Higgs: Turned down knighthood in 1999. Picture: Getty
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Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Peter Higgs has said he plans to retire next year at the age of 85.

Prof Higgs also revealed in a BBC Scotland interview that he had turned down a knighthood in 1999.

The 84-year-old was recognised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his work on the theory of the particle which shares his name, the Higgs boson.

The existence of the so-called “God particle”, said to give matter its substance, or mass, was proved 50 years on by a team from the European nuclear research facility (Cern) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2012.

Prof Higgs retired from teaching 17 years ago but is an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh and travels internationally to give lectures.

“I’m proposing to retire at the age of 85 next year,” he said.

“Flying around the world giving lectures is a fairly recent phenomenon because of the build up to this discovery at Cern but for many years I had a quiet time in retirement.”

Prof Higgs, who shares this year’s prize with Francois Englert of Belgium, joins the ranks of Nobel winners including Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.

He said he felt uncomfortable being likened to other Nobel winners. The professor also revealed he had turned down the honor of a knighthood as he did not want any title.

“I got the offer from Tony Blair in November 1999,” he said. “I would have been included in the millennium honours and I said no thank you.

“I thought anything of that sort was premature and anyway I didn’t want that sort of title thank you. I actually didn’t want any sort of title.”