I couldn’t get a job today


Peter Higgs, 84, a British theoretical physicist, will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics today in Stockholm for his pioneering research in the 1960’s related to the Higgs Boson particle theory (“The God Particle”).

The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers following his groundbreaking work in 1964 which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass.

He doubts that a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.”

Edinburgh university’s authorities then took the view, he later learned, that he “might get a Nobel prize – and if he doesn’t we can always get rid of him”.

Higgs said he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. A message would go around the department saying: “Please give a list of your recent publications.” Higgs said: “I would send back a statement: ‘None.’”

He has never been tempted to buy a television, but was persuaded to watch The Big Bang Theory last year, and said he wasn’t impressed.

Read entire story in The Guardian: “Nobel Prize winner behind Higgs-Boson says he couldn’t get an academic job today

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