Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Thousands sign up for Higgs course at Edinburgh University

Professor Peter Higgs Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Professor Peter Higgs was at Edinburgh University when he developed the boson theory

More than 10,000 people have signed up for an online course to study the work of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Professor Peter Higgs.

The free seven-week course run by Edinburgh University, The Discovery of the Higgs boson, begins this week.

Prof Higgs theorised that particles acquire mass by interacting with a field spread throughout the universe.

His concept sparked a 40-year hunt for the Higgs "boson" particle needed to carry and transmit the field's effect.

Online students

The search for the so-called "God particle" culminated in July 2012 when a team from the European nuclear research facility at Cern in Geneva announced the detection of a particle that fitted the description of the elusive Higgs.

Scientists used the world's biggest atom-smashing machine, the £2.6bn Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, to track down the missing particle.

Edinburgh University said online students will explore the scientific breakthroughs that led to the building of the Large Hadron Collider and to the detection of the boson.

The course features interviews with Prof Higgs and filmed lectures with physicists from the Higgs Centre at the university.

Students will be encouraged to debate what they have seen using online forums and social media.

Professor Arthur Trew, head of the school of physics and astronomy at Edinburgh University, said: "Professor Higgs' research has provided us with profound insight into the building blocks of the universe and this course will allow anyone with a computer and access to the web to take part in the exciting and revolutionary times that we live in."

The online course is being run on the FutureLearn platform, a partnership of 23 universities, as well as the British Museum, British Council and British Library, that offers learners the opportunity to access high-quality courses for free.

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