Peter Higgs had already made it clear that he would be off the grid when the Nobel Prize in Physics was announced on Tuesday.
So when a former neighbour pulled up in her car as he was retiring from lunch that afternoon and asked if he had heard the news, he responded: “‘Oh, what news?”
So she told him.
Higgs, 84, along with Francois Englert, 80, split a $US1.2 million prize for their theory on how particles obtain mass, which they separately proposed in 1964.
Their ideas were confirmed nearly 50 years later when scientists announced they had found a Higgs boson — the subatomic particle that the theory predicted — in July 2012.
The Nobel Committee unsuccessfully tried to reach Higgs by phone on the day of the announcement.
“Peter Higgs was not reached by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences yet, email sent,” a Twitter account associated with the committee said shortly after the prize was awarded.
The retired professor, who does not own a cell phone, had been enjoying a meal of draft beer, soup, and sea trout in Edinburgh’s port area when the announcement was made, according to the The Telegraph.
“I conveniently got out of the way while the telephone messages mounted up,” Higgs told Bloomberg.