Boffinry bitchslap brouhaha: Higgs and Hawking head to head

Proton cannons for two, coffee for one


Famous retired physics prof Peter Higgs - of boson renown - has stingingly counter-poohpoohed the theories of his equally well known Nobel Prize rival, Stephen Hawking, who has already poohpoohed Higgs' particle concept. The clash of intellects is expected to be settled by particle-punishment results at the Large Hadron Collider.

Speaking of Hawking's methods at a press conference yesterday, Higgs was sternly critical.

"I don’t think the way he does it is good enough," he snapped, quoted in today's Times.

“He puts together theories in particle physics with gravity ... in a way which no theoretical particle physicist would believe...

“From a particle physics, quantum theory point of view, you have to put a lot more than just gravity into the theory to have a consistent theory and I don’t think Stephen has done that. I am very doubtful about his calculations.”

Hawking is well known to have bet $100 that Higgs' boson brainchild, the so-called "god particle", doesn't exist.

It's thought among boffins that if the elusive deiton - postulated by Higgs back in 1964, but never yet detected - is real, it ought to appear in coming years among the variegated debris to be produced at the LHC by smashing up protons with extreme violence. If it does, Higgs will be in line for a Nobel Prize.

Hawking, however, reckons that instead a number of "partner" particles will appear. These would potentially torpedo the Standard Model on which modern physics is based, and snatch away Higgs' long-awaited Nobel laurels to rest instead atop Hawking's eminent brainbox.

It would seem that the duelling boffinry heavyweights will have to settle the matter in the only honourable way open to men of their sort: with enormous hyper-powered magnetic proton cannons at fifty paces*. Higgs for one seemed confident about the result, telling the Times that he has champagne waiting on ice to celebrate victory. ®

* Underground. The LHC is situated 50 to 175m beneath the surface.


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