Prof. Higgs, theoretical physicist known for the Higgs Field and the Higgs Boson
Speculating about the past lives of prominent individuals has become a pet hobby of mine. Because souls can develop expertise in a field over several lifetimes, I often wonder if someone highly accomplished today might have had a well-known and identifiable life before this one in a similar field of endeavour. It’s then a case of spotting facial similarity as well as other shared characteristics.
Here is what I came up with when I looked into Prof. Peter Higgs. He is the 83-year-old English physicist who gave his name to the “missing-link” particle which scientists now believe they finally have found: the Higgs boson.
A direct forerunner of his, another outstanding theoretical physicist from England, was Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727). In the following pictures, it’s Isaac Newton on the left and Peter Higgs on the right.
Isaac Newton (1643-1727) is considered one of the greatest and most influential scientists who ever lived. Among other things he discovered gravity and formulated the three laws of motion. Much of what schoolchildren are taught in physics classes today comes straight from Newton.
He was a bit of an eccentric character. As we would say these days, he didn’t get out much. He never married, and apparently died a virgin. It has also been suggested that he may have had Asperger syndrome, though it appears he may have simply suffered from mercury poisoning thanks to his experiments in alchemy.
He held unorthodox religious views and tried very hard to avoid being ordained a priest (a university requirement for Fellows at that time).
He was briefly a Member of Parliament, and by all accounts very ineffective at it – his only speech in the House of Commons being a request to open the windows.
In later life he moved to London to take charge of the Royal Mint, a prestigious job overseeing the standardisation of English currency.
After his death in 1727, his body was buried at Westminster Abbey — a great national honour shared by the likes of Shakespeare and Churchill.
Newton’s Gravity, Higgs’ Mass
Newton of course discovered gravity, supposedly by watching an apple fall from a tree to the ground. Gravitation, he proposed, is a universal force of attraction between objects with mass.
But what exactly is mass?
It was in the 1960s that Peter Higgs first proposed a theory for what causes mass, a theory which now appears to be confirmed by the particle discovered at the Cern research facility in Europe.
In essence, the theory is that the entire universe is pervaded by an invisible field of energy — now called the Higgs Field. The Higgs boson, by the way, is sort of visible “off-shoot” of this invisible field. Now, there are some particles, such as photons of light, that can shoot straight through space without being affected by the Higgs Field (though they are affected by gravity). These particles have no mass. But other particles, such as protons, are slowed down as they move through the Higgs Field, as if they were wading through treacle. This ‘drag’ is precisely what we measure as mass. (Mass, defined technically, is a resistance to acceleration).
Now that Higgs appears to have had his theory of mass confirmed by research, in a sense we could say that Newton’s physics has come full circle. Gravity is the field of attraction between objects with mass, and mass is the ‘retardation’ of particles interacting with a field.
There is a 200 year gap between the lives of Newton and Higgs, so if these are one and the same soul then I would expect there would have been at least one other life in between. (Time to look through the list of nineteenth century physicists…?)