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Peter Higgs says he's not 'productive enough' to survive modern academics

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Peter Higgs, Francois Englert (Flickr)
Peter Higgs, Francois Englert (Flickr)

Theoretical physicist Peter Higgs is best known for the work that lead to the discovery of Higgs boson particle, but he believes that in today's academic climate he would never have had the same kind of breakthrough. In fact, he says that in a modern system that puts a high value on productivity, he probably wouldn't even find work. "Today I wouldn't get an academic job," he tells the Guardian. "I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough."

"Today I wouldn't get an academic job."

Higgs' groundbreaking research was first published in 1964, and afterwards he published just 10 papers, something he says was "an embarrassment" to his department. This year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics alongside François Englert. It's not just the focus on productivity that would have derailed Higgs' work, however — he also thinks modern technology would have been a detriment. "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," he says.