A ROW between Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Higgs and the organisers of the Edinburgh Science Festival led to the last-minute cancellation of a high-profile event.


An audience of 500 was due to hear the physicist speak about his career but they were emailed and phoned yesterday by festival staff, who told them the event at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall was not going ahead.

It is understood that Professor Higgs, joint winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, was annoyed that the number of people taking part in the Peter Higgs in Conversation event had apparently changed, and he pulled out late on.

Professor Higgs is famed for predicting the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, since found by scientists at the Large Hadron Collider.

A Science Festival spokeswoman admitted problems with the "event format" had scuppered it.

A source who knows the Professor outlined the background to the argument.

She said: "I ran into Professor Higgs in Edinburgh on Monday and we had a chat, as we often do.

"I told him I was looking forward to going to his Science Festival event and he said: 'I'm not doing it.' He's normally quite mild-mannered so I was taken aback by the vehemence of his response.

"He said the Science Festival organisers had changed the format of the event without asking him first and he wasn't at all happy. It was originally to be a two-hander but he said he was annoyed a third person had been added to the bill."

The details advertised on the Science Festival website, which was still active last night, said Professor Higgs was due to be in conversation with particle physicist and science writer Professor Frank Close and space scientist Monica Grady.

The event was billed as an opportunity to "explore the idea of bringing science to the masses and the masses to science".

The source said: "I pleaded with him to reconsider but he was adamant he had been messed about and wasn't going to take part anymore.

"It's very sad because a lot of people would have been very disappointed that they didn't hear him speak."

A Science Festival spokeswoman said: "There was confusion with the event format and it came to light too late to change it. It's very disappointing and we're sorry we couldn't find a solution."