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National park claims place in scientific history

Posted 5 July 2012
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National park claims place in scientific history
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The scientific community has been rejoicing at the news of the discovery of the elusive 'God particle' that gives matter mass, but some may be unaware of the role a walk in the Cairngorms played in it.

Peter Higgs, the theoretical physicist after whom the Higgs Boson is named, conceived the theory with his hiking boots on as he enjoyed a trek in the mountain range in 1964.

And it was this week that the Cern project finally managed to indicate the existence of the particle the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

It is not the first time that heading for the Scottish Highlands has been a great way to advance the cause of science.

Schiehallion, a Munro in Perthshire owned by the John Muir Trust, is nearly symmetrical in shape and this prompted astronomer royal the Rev Neville Maskelyne to attempt to calculate the weight of the Earth in 1774 using a plumb line.

The measurements of the mountain carried out to help calibrate the experiment led to the invention of contour lines, which are a key feature of Ordnance Survey maps today.