Nobel winner presents prize

Eilidh (second from right) with other winners, Professor Higgs and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Eilidh (second from right) with other winners, Professor Higgs and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

A former Boclair Academy student had the honour of meeting a Nobel winning scientist when she was presented with a physics prize recently.

Eilidh Birse, who is now studying medicine at the University of St Andrews, met the father of the so-called ‘God particle’, Professor Peter Higgs, when she was presented with the Higgs prize for physics at a recent awards ceremony with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and education secretary Angela Constance.

The 84-year-old scientist is famous for predicting the existence of the elusive fundamental particle – the Higgs boson – at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a huge atom-smashing machine built to probe the origins of the universe.

His work has had a significant impact on modern day particle physics, and he rewards pupils who show a particular aptitude for the subject.

The Scottish Goverment funded prize is awarded on merit, to the highest performing male and female Advanced Higher Physics candidates from a publicly-funded school and there were four winners.

They will travel to the internationally renowned CERN research facility in Switzerland in July to attend lectures and seminars on physics and talk to Scottish researchers about their work and careers.

Mr Meek, principal teacher of physics at Boclair Academy, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Eilidh and a proud moment for Boclair Academy.”

Professor Higgs said: “Everyone in life has people that they admire and strive to be like – my own inspiration was Paul Dirac, a man who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 – and I’m honoured that an award in my name is used as inspiration to the younger generation of physicists.

“I congratulate Eilidh, Julie, Stuart and Raheem on winning this prize and I’m sure they will have an amazing time at CERN. I hope these four promising young talents go on to become esteemed in their own right.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland has a wonderful history of scientific discovery and it’s encouraging to see that tradition continue through today’s pupils and students who continue to be passionate and excited to take on the scientific challenges.”