Nobel winner Prof Peter Higgs plans to retire

Prof Higgs does not see himself as being comparable to Einstein

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Prof Peter Higgs, the joint winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Physics, has promised to retire - once he turns 85.

In a BBC Scotland interview, he also revealed that he turned down the offer of a knighthood because he did not want "that sort of title".

Prof Higgs said he feels uncomfortable being likened to other Nobel winners.

The 84-year-old said this was because his work on the particle which carries his name only took a very short time.

He said: "I'm getting the prize for something which took me two or three weeks in 1964. It's a very small amount of my life.

"If you take Einstein for the example, his achievements were several orders of magnitude greater."

Landmark research

Prof Higgs was born in Newcastle, but developed his theory while working at the University of Edinburgh.

Start Quote

As you know I've recently become a Companion of Honour but that's rather discreet”

End Quote Prof Peter Higgs

His landmark research defined what was to become known as the Higgs boson.

Discovering the particle became one of the most sought-after goals in science, and the team of scientists from the European nuclear research facility Cern, who were behind the $10bn Large Hadron Collider (LHC), made proving its existence a key priority.

In July 2012, physicists at Cern confirmed the discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

Prof Higgs said he was offered a knighthood in 1999 by Prime Minister Tony Blair but refused the honour.

'Rather discreet'

"I thought anything of that sort was premature," he explained, "and anyway, I didn't want that sort of title thank you."

"As you know I've recently become a Companion of Honour but that's rather discreet. It's a couple of letters after your name."

The physicist retired from full-time teaching 17 years ago but has remained active in sharing his knowledge with other scientists.

He now intends to retire "properly" after his 85th birthday.

"I'm proposing to retire at the age of 85, next year," he confirmed.

"But flying around the world giving lectures is a fairly recent phenomenon because of the build up to this discovery at Cern."

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