Thousands sign up for Higgs course
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, entitled The Discovery of the Higgs boson, begins this week and is being run by the University of Edinburgh where Prof Higgs worked when he developed the "God particle" theory.
His proposal was that particles acquire mass by interacting with an all-pervading field spread throughout the universe. The more they interact, the more massive and heavy they become.
A ''boson'' particle was needed to carry and transmit the effect of the field.
His concept sparked a 40-year hunt for the Higgs boson, which 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 £2.6 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, to track down the missing particle.
The University of Edinburgh 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. S tudents 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 the 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.