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    The Quote of the Week - Peter Higgs: Inventing an Elementary Particle
    By Tommaso Dorigo | February 13th 2013 03:53 AM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    I quickly wrote a short paper, "Broken Symmetries, Massless Particles and Gauge Fields", which described how gauge theories may evade the Goldstone theorem, and submitted it to Physics Letters. It was received on 27 July and published 15 September. Before writing up the work on what is now known the Higgs model I spent a few days searching the literature to see whether it had been done before. I thought that Schwinger, in particular, might well have done something of the kind years earlier and I might have overlooked it. When I had satisfied myself that he hadn't, I wrote a second short paper, "Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons", and submitted it too to Physics Letters. It was rejected. In his letter the Geneva editor wrote that it was not the kind of result which called for rapid publication in Physics Letters but that a fuller account of the work might be suitable for Il Nuovo Cimento.

    I was indignant - I thought my discovery was important! My colleague Euan Squires, who spent the month of August 1984 at CERN in the Theory Division, later told me people there just didn't see the point of what I had done. In retrospect this is not surprising. In 1964 particle theory in Europe was dominated by S-Matrix theory and the doctrines of Geoffrey Chew. Quantum field theory was out of fashion and I had been rash enough to base my claims on the linearized version of a classical field theory (invoking implicitly the de Broglie relations). What relevance could this possibly have to particle physics ?

    Realising that I had failed to sell my work sufficiently, I revised the paper and submitted it to Physical Review Letters. This time it was accepted, but the referee (who, I learned a few years ago, was Nambu) asked me to comment on the relation of my work to that of Englert and Brout, which was published in Physical Review Letters on 31 August, the day my paper was received, but of which I had been unaware since in 1964 the Brussels group did not send preprints to Edinburgh.[...]

    P.Higgs, "Inventing and elementary particle", in "Higgs Particles", Plenum Press, NY 1990, ed. A.Ali

    Comments

    It was rejected. In his letter the Geneva editor wrote that it was not the kind of result which called for rapid publication in Physics Letters but that a fuller account of the work might be suitable for Il Nuovo Cimento.
    Il Nuovo Cimento, which a few years later was renamed La Revista del Nuovo Cimento, interestingly has a woman from U. of Bologna as editor-in-chief.  

    >> My colleague Euan Squires, who spent the month of August 1984 at CERN in the Theory Division.

    A side story. Euan Squires was professor in Durham and spent his last years trying to understand quantum mechanics. He was supposed to be my PhD supervisor. But a week before, I started, I got an email saying: "Your supervisory died in a cricket match!"