By CMS Collaboration

Peter Higgs was one of the pioneers who brought the electroweak theory and the Standard Model of particle physics into being in the 1960s. He posited a new field and particle that would provide a mechanism for how elementary particles gain mass. The particle, the Higgs boson, was then discovered at CERN by the CMS and ATLAS experiments in 2012. In 2013, he shared a Nobel Prize with François Englert for his work.

Peter Higgs' research was among the first to provide an understanding of the origin of mass. This was important because progress toward a complete model of the fundamental forces and particles was impossible without it. It was a conjecture that profoundly changed our understanding of the universe and its evolution.

Michel Della Negra, CMS spokesperson between 1992 and 2006, explains: "the competition among experimentalists to find the Higgs boson intensified in the 1990s after the discovery of the W and Z bosons. Two new hadron colliders were specifically designed for the Higgs boson discovery: the SSC in the US and the LHC in Europe. The SSC was cancelled by the US congress in 1992, while the LHC project was approved by CERN Council in 1994. The proposed LHC detectors had to demonstrate that if the Higgs boson existed as predicted by the theory they could not miss its discovery."

This quest to discover the Higgs boson led to the construction of the biggest and most complex accelerators and experiments ever built. In July 2012, evidence was presented for a new boson at a mass of around 125 GeV with properties consistent with those expected for a Higgs boson! Peter Higgs himself was present in the auditorium for the announcement.

Since the discovery, the study of the Brout-Englert-Higgs field and the Higgs boson has been a key part of the research done at CMS. Just as the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA revolutionised the field of genetics at a molecular level, the discovery of the Higgs boson has allowed over a decade of Higgs physics to flourish at CMS, with many more aspects still to explore in the coming years. Out of 1274 papers submitted by CMS to date, almost 15% are on physics of the Higgs boson.

Here we remember the remarkable man who was Peter Higgs, a name that will remain forever in our field.

The particle that bears his name has inspired generations of scientists and continues to drive the investigations at the Large Hadron Collider. I had the honour of meeting Prof. Higgs during the weeks before the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. He was a kind man and was looking forward to hearing the news from ATLAS and CMS with humility and grace. 

- Patricia McBride, Current CMS spokesperson 2022-2024

Peter Higgs was in the audience when Fabiola Gianotti and I presented the evidence from the CMS and ATLAS experiments showing that his conjecture was correct. Always the gentleman, when asked to speak in the press conference that followed, he insisted that this day was for the experiments and they could talk to him later. I was fortunate to spend time with Peter then and on various other occasions in the years that followed. He was an extraordinary physicist and I will never forget what a remarkably kind, gentle and humble person he was.

- Joseph Incandela, CMS spokesperson 2012-2013

I was in charge of defending CMS and leading its construction as SP from 1992 to 2006. The Higgs boson phenomenology had a strong influence on the design of CMS. Peter Higgs is a great physicist and his work was a breakthrough in particle physics. Like all of us, I am very sad to hear of his sudden death.

- Michel Della Negra, CMS spokesperson 1992-2006

Prof. Peter Higgs visits the CMS experiment, 2008 (Image: M.Brice/CERN)


I was very saddened to hear of Peter’s passing. Peter himself was a rare individual and scientist; self-effacing, gracious, modest, and inspiring

- Jim Virdee, CMS spokesperson 2007-2009

The name Higgs has been present in my career since I was a student and having been involved in the discovery matches only the pleasure I had when I met him in person. It is a sad day for all of us.

- Tiziano Camporesi, CMS spokesperson 2014-2016

The man whose intuition sixty years ago forever changed the way in which we look at matter was a shy, beautiful person. His legacy will go well beyond the particle that bears his name.

- Guido Tonelli, CMS spokesperson 2010-2011

The quest to discover the Higgs boson has shaped our field for decades. I was amongst the cheering people celebrating the discovery when it was finally announced - I will never forget the shy happiness and emotion of Prof. Higgs, present in the room.

- Roberto Carlin, CMS spokesperson 2018-2020

Collaboration,Prizes,ATLAS,Joe Incandela ,Peter Higgs,Francois Englert,Tejinder Virdee,Dave Charlton,Peter Jenni,CMS,Outreach,EPS
(From left) Joe Incandela, Peter Higgs, Francois Englert, Tejinder Virdee, Dave Charlton, and Peter Jenni. Higgs and Englert gave the prizes to the recipients of the 2013 European Physical Society's High Energy and Particle Physics Prize, for an outstanding contribution to high energy physics. "For the discovery of a Higgs boson, as predicted by the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism," the prize was awarded to the ATLAS and CMS collaborations. Spokesperson for CMS, Incandela, and Spokesperson for ATLAS, Charlton, accepted the awards on their collaborations' behalf. "For their pioneering and outstanding leadership roles in the making of the ATLAS and CMS experiments," the prize was awarded to Jenni, Virdee, and Michel Della Negra (not present). Image: ATLAS (Image: ATLAS, CERN)

Peter Higgs's groundbreaking contributions have served as a beacon for generations of physicists, myself included. His insights not only influenced the blueprint of past and present experiments but also shaped the very essence of the CMS detector as we know it today. This profound design has enabled us to validate his visionary concepts, while simultaneously igniting the passion to innovate for future generations of detectors

- Luca Malgeri, CMS spokesperson 2020-2022

It is wonderful Professor Higgs lived to see that his theory was in fact realized in nature. We are now engaged in the intense study of the object that bears his name. It is widely expected that this unique boson not only completes the standard model but opens a door to physics beyond it for which new machines and experiments are already being proposed. The adventure continues!

- Joel Butler, CMS Spokesperson 2016-2018

The mathematically elegant theoretical edifice developed by Peter Higgs and others is the origin of the masses of fundamental bosons and charged fermions. The CMS Collaboration is carrying out a rich program of detailed studies on the properties of the Higgs boson, and I look forward to seeing CMS continue to do so. In this quest, Professor Higgs will remain an inspiration.

- Gautier Hamel de Monchenault, Future CMS spokesperson 2024-2026


Professionally and personally, the wider CMS community mourns the passing of Peter Higgs.

I was invited to Peter Higgs’ 90th birthday celebration in Edinburgh for my role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. I was greatly impressed by his clarity of thought, and his witty and lively way of talking about physics or any other topic. A great mind and a lovely person.

- Chiara Mariotti, co-founder of the Higgs Cross Section Working group that played a key role in the discovery of the Higgs boson

Professor Higgs' 90th Birthday Party

Professor Higgs' 90th Birthday party. (Mariotti, 2019)


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Find out more:

- Joe Incandela's live TV interview on Professor Higgs' passing

- About the Higgs boson

- Images from Professor Higgs' visit to CMS in 2008

- Watch footage from the announcement of the Higgs boson here, here, and here

- See CMS publications over time

- CMS Publication "A portrait of the Higgs boson by the CMS experiment ten years after the discovery"

- Search all CMS results


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