It was a little weird to get up and read an interview in the Guardian UK with Peter Higgs on his way to accept the Nobel Prize in Physics…odd because I thought that he’d already won that. Higgs sounds a bit of curmudgeon: no televsion, no email (boy that sounds awesome), no web (but how does he view cat videos???)
He’s got a nice bit in there about how he just wouldn’t fit today’s mold of churning out paper after paper. The line about peace and quiet is particularly apt:
He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “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.”
Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.
Edinburgh University’s authorities then took the view, he later learned, that he “might get a Nobel prize – and if he doesn’t we can always get rid of him”.
Higgs said he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. A message would go around the department saying: “Please give a list of your recent publications.” Higgs said: “I would send back a statement: ‘None.’ “