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Peter Higgs skipped town to avoid spotlight during Nobel announcement

Peter Higgs skipped town to avoid spotlight during Nobel announcement

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Peter Higgs may be grateful to have won the Nobel Prize in physics, but he wasn't eager to sit in the media spotlight — so much so that he actually skipped town ahead of the announcement just in case he won, reports the Guardian. At 84, Higgs apparently isn't fond of modern technology, eschewing mobile phones and computers for landlines and pen and paper, so when he left for a carefully timed vacation earlier this week there was no quick way to contact him. The Royal Swedish Academy was reportedly unable to get in touch with Higgs before or even after the physics prize was announced.

"Oh, what news?"

Higgs didn't find out about winning until he'd returned to his home in Scotland, and was congratulated by a former neighbor, reports the BBC. "She congratulated me on the news, and I said, 'Oh, what news?'" Higgs reportedly explained at a conference at the University of Edinburgh. "I heard more about it obviously when I got home and started reading the messages."

Though Higgs' award-winning work was published in 1964, it wasn't until earlier this year that scientists were able to confirm the existence of a particle consistent with what was described by his findings. "I'm delighted and rather relieved in a sense that it's all over. It has been a long time coming," Higgs said at Edinburgh, reports the BBC. The boson that Higgs predicted explains why particles have mass — a critical concept for physicists to determine. Higgs is sharing the prize with an assisting scientist, and he points out that there are many others who helped but haven't been recognized.

Higgs says that since the Large Hadron Collider — the particle accelerator used to observe the Higgs boson — was started up, he knew that the particle he predicted would eventually be found, reports the BBC. But until the collider was started, Higgs says, "It seemed to me for many years that the experimental verification might not come in my lifetime."