Theoretical physicist Professor Peter Higgs has been presented with the 2011 Edinburgh Award. Previous winners of the prize, organised by the City of Edinburgh Council and nominated by the citizens of Edinburgh for their outstanding contribution to the city, include Sir Chris Hoy and JK Rowling.
A sculpture of Professor Higgs’ handprints, engraved in Caithness stone, has been installed on a flagstone in the City Chambers quadrangle alongside those of the previous Edinburgh Award recipients. Professor Higgs will also receive an engraved Loving Cup - a traditional two-handled drinking vessel that represents friendship.
"It is a great honour to receive this award from the city that I fell in love with and is now my adopted home." Professor Peter Higgs
Speaking at the Award, Professor Richard Kenway said: "Discovery of the Higgs boson would be the culmination of 20th century theoretical physics; its absence would mark the most massive deception ever perpetrated by Nature!"
In 1964, Professor Higgs developed his theory of the Higgs boson, an important ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics, which helps explain how objects have mass. Professor Higgs’s theory has formed part of the research being carried out at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. In 2011, scientists at CERN announced they had glimpsed the Higgs boson and hope to confirm whether it does or does not exist in 2012. Should Professor Higgs' theory be proven, it is widely predicted that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.