Edinburgh University to offer free Higgs boson course online

Last Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 21:32

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Edinburgh: Students around the world who want to know more about the ‘god particle’ or ‘Higgs boson’ can smile as they can now learn for free though online about the mysterious work of particle physicist Professor Peter Higgs.

Edinburgh University is offering a free online course, which anyone around the globe can take part.

The seven-week course, titled “The Discovery of the Higgs boson”, describes the scientific advancements that have led to the building of the Large Hadron Collider, in Switzerland, and to the detection of the boson.

It will also highlight the cross-fertilisation between theory and experiment in particle physics during the past 100 years.

The course will feature interviews with Professor Higgs, 84, and filmed lectures by a team of world-class physicists at the University of Edinburgh. Students can then debate what they have seen using dedicated online discussion spaces, as well as via social media.

The University of Edinburgh is offering the course as its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) via the FutureLearn platform. FutureLearn is a partnership of 23 leading universities, together with the British Museum, British Council and British Library, which gives learners the opportunity to access high quality courses for free.

Professor Arthur Trew, Head of School for Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, said today: “I am very pleased that Peter’s incredible work will now be available to a worldwide audience of learners to analyse and discuss.

“Peter’s 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 University of Edinburgh has pioneered online learning and was the first university in the UK to offer MOOCs via the Coursera platform. Coursera is a partnership of international universities which offers higher-education standard learning opportunities to all. More than 300,000 learners benefitted from Edinburgh’s MOOCs in 2013.

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh said: “The Higgs MOOC offers a hugely exciting opportunity for learners to experience university-standard courses, at no cost to themselves.

“Over the next 12 months, we will be announcing details of more than a dozen MOOCs, across a range of subjects, reinforcing Edinburgh’s position as a world-leader in online learning.”

The Higgs boson

The ‘Higgs boson’ or ‘Higgs particle’ is an elementary particle initially theorised by Professor Peter Higgs in 1964 when he was a researcher at Edinburgh University, and tentatively confirmed to exist on 14 March 2013.

The finding has been called ‘monumental’ because it appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field which is essential to the Standard Model and other theories within particle physics.

First Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 21:31

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