HIS research has sparked the interest of scientists around the globe - to such an extent that more than 10,000 people have signed up for an online course to study the work of physicist Professor Peter Higgs.

The free seven-week course, titled The Discovery of the Higgs Boson, begins this week and is being run by Edinburgh University, where Mr Higgs worked when he developed the "God particle" theory.

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Steven Camley's cartoon 

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 fitting the description.

The online course is being run on the FutureLearn platform, a partnership of organisations including 23 universities.