Feature

The hermit physicist

Peter Higgs is not a fan of modern technology.

Peter Higgs is not a fan of modern technology, said Decca Aitkenhead in The Guardian (U.K.). The British theoretical physicist, 84, is so consumed with work that he has never sent an email, looked at the Internet, or used a cellphone. He’s so cut off from modes of modern communication that he didn’t know he’d won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics—for his 1964 paper predicting the Higgs boson, which imbues other particles with mass—until a neighbor congratulated him on the street. His son did buy him a mobile phone two months ago, but he has yet to make a call, and no one outside his family knows his number. “I resent being disturbed in this way,” says Higgs. “Why should people be able to interrupt me like that?” Because they want to keep in touch? “But I don’t want to be in touch,” he laughs. “It’s an intrusion into my way of life, and certainly on principle I don’t feel obliged to accept it.” He doesn’t own a TV, but not because he lacks interest in the outside world. “I don’t regard television as the outside world,” he offers dryly. “I regard it as an artifact.” Someone did get him to watch The Big Bang Theory last year—a popular sitcom about socially awkward young scientists—but he “wasn’t impressed.”

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