A TOP physicist has told of his excitement at the “mind-blowing” discovery of a new particle consistent with the long sought-after Higgs boson.
Professor Jeff Forshaw – a friend and colleague of Wonders Of The Universe TV presenter Professor Brian Cox – described the discovery as “the most exciting development in my career”.
And the ex Hesketh Fletcher High School and Wigan Tech student, a theorist who regularly analyses data from the Large Hadron Collider, explained that the find has finally closed a gaping hole in physicists’ knowledge.
He said: “The Higgs boson particle is the linchpin in understanding how the universe works and how matter attains its mass. The theory states that empty space is not empty and is in fact filled with tiny Higgs particles which act like cosmic treacle – stopping electrons from moving as fast as the speed of light.
“We knew the scientists in Cern had found something interesting at the end of last year, so it’s mind-blowing that they’ve found this. There are no more gaps of this magnitude in our knowledge left to fill.”
Amazingly, Professor Forshaw, 44, struggled to get his head around basic physics while studying the subject at school.
But, after gaining a B at O-level, the Wigan Warriors fan took the subject up at A-level, against his teachers’ advice, caught the science bug and never looked back.
After studying at Oxford University he became the youngest professor in elementary particle physics in the country and now works alongside Professor Cox at the University of Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
The duo have just released a new book too, The Quantum Universe – Everything That Can Happen Does Happen. The father-of-one added: “The trouble with physics is that you have to have a good grasp of maths and, in order to understand the really interesting stuff, you have to understand the boring stuff first.
“But it’s not just about training people to become engineers or to invent a new machine - it’s fundamental to how everything in the universe works. Some of it is borderline Doctor Who!”