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Photograph of James Clerk Maxwell as a young man
James Clerk Maxwell
Photograph of Max Born
Max Born
Photograph of Peter Higgs
Peter Higgs

The most powerful scientific instrument employed in theoretical physics is the human mind: a peculiar combination of logical and intuitive thinking seems to be capable of understanding and even predicting the fundamental nature of the physical world we observe around us – even in areas such as quantum theory or cosmology which are very far removed from everyday experience.

Of course no theorist thinks entirely independently: we all benefit from those that have gone before us, and from those around us, whether they are teachers or colleagues. We learn from reading books, scientific papers, giving and attending lectures and seminars, from discussing in front of the blackboard, and then working through all these things in our own head in our own way to obtain our own personal perspective. It is through this continuing process of communication and introspection that new ideas grow and develop.

At the Higgs Centre we aim to bring together students, researchers and professors in theoretical physics from around the world into an environment where they can teach, learn, and discuss openly and freely. We do this through a range of programmes of graduate lectures, seminars and colloquia, workshops and symposia, facilitated by graduate student, visitor and associate programmes. All this in a purpose built space designed to encourage interaction, set in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

The University of Edinburgh has a rich history of theoretical physics. In the nineteenth century James Clerk Maxwell was a student here, and his friend Peter Guthrie Tait, the inventor of knot theory, was a Professor. Max Born, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, was Tait Professor from 1936 until 1953, followed by Nick Kemmer, inventor of isospin. In 1960 Kemmer hired Peter Higgs as a Lecturer, and Peter remained here until his retirement in 1996. We have two Nobel prize winners: Born (1954) and Higgs (2013).

The Director of the Higgs Centre is Martin Evans, Professor of Statistical Physics at the University of Edinburgh. Local organization is through a Management Committee, while more strategic issues are decided with the help of an International Advisory Committee. Neil Turok is the Inaugural Higgs Chair of Theoretical Physics at the University of Edinburgh. He is also the Chair of the International Advisory Committee.

The Centre is located in the James Clerk Maxwell Building, on the Kings Buildings Campus.

The Higgs Centre is supported by the University of Edinburgh Campaign.