Higgs CERN prize on offer for Scottish pupils


Scotland’s outstanding physics pupils will have a chance to win a new prize honouring the scientist whose work led to the naming of the Higgs particle.

The Higgs Prize, which is due to be announced by the first minister Alex Salmond this week, will include a trip to the CERN facility in Switzerland where work continues on researching the particle.

Professor Peter Higgs was set to formally launch the prize with Mr Salmond as part of a range of events to promote the global reputation of Scottish science.

Prof Higgs said: “As a student at my old school in Bristol, I was inspired by seeing the name of Paul Dirac appear several times on the honours board. Dirac was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1933 for his work of inventing anti-matter and in particular the positron.

“I am pleased to have my name associated with this prize and hope that this will inspire young students of today just as I was myself in the past.”

He continued: “I know very well how exciting and amazing visits to CERN can be.

“Rewarding those who have excelled in physics in this way and supporting the next generation of scientists is to be warmly welcomed.”

Mr Salmond said Prof Higgs, an Edinburgh University scientist, was a household name the world over. “His work is celebrated internationally and Scotland is very proud of him.

“The Higgs Prize will be an opportunity for some of Scotland’s brightest young school physicists to see for themselves the cutting-edge of international physics at CERN. I’m delighted that Professor Higgs’ achievements will inspire future generations of Scots.”

Higher physics entries rose to 9,166 in 2012 from 8,582 in 2007, in steady increments each year, while Advanced Highers in the subject rose to 1,917 from 1,380 in the same period. Chemistry has shown a similar trend.

About twice as many pupils in Scotland study science as in England, and numbers have been rising in the last two years after a sharp drop. Between 2000 and 2006 numbers studying physics at Higher fell by 15 per cent.

The bounce has followed a major report by the Scottish Science Advisory Council that concluded there was an “urgent need” to make science more relevant and exciting in schools.


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