London, September 11 : Among the celebrations of the world's greatest scientific experiment - the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) going underway, Professor Peter Higgs has launched a withering attack on Professor Stephen Hawking, saying his work was "not good enough".
According to a report in the Times, Higgs, the scientist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, the particle at the centre of the LHC experiment, dismissed Hawking's views on the 2.6 billion pounds project, and said that no other particle physicist would view his approach as "correct".
Professor Higgs, who faced a press conference in Edinburgh yesterday, was reacting to an interview in which Professor Hawking jokingly suggested that it would be "more exciting" if the experiment at CERN on the Franco-Swiss border did not find the "God particle" it has been set up to identify.
"That will show something is wrong, and we will need to think again," Hawking had said.
Professor Hawking once placed a 100 dollar bet that the particle does not exist and continues to argue that there are more interesting outcomes to be drawn from the LHC than the discovery of the Higgs boson.
Professor Higgs, who first postulated the existence of the particle 44 years ago, reacted with visible irritation.
"I have to confess I haven't read the paper in which Stephen Hawking makes this claim," he said. "But I have read one he wrote, which I think is the basis for the kind of calculation he does. And frankly I don't think the way he does it is good enough," he added.
According to Higgs, "My understanding is he puts together theories in particle physics with gravity in a way which no theoretical particle physicist would believe is the correct theory."
"From a particle physics, quantum theory point of view, you have to put a lot more than just gravity into the theory to have a consistent theory and I don't think Stephen has done that. I am very doubtful about his calculations," he added.
Other members of the panel moved swiftly to cut off the discussion, suggesting that he had taken Professor Hawking's views out of context.
But, it was clear that Professor Higgs did not rate his rival's view that the LHC would be more likely to reveal a number of "partner" particles than the boson.
Both men are contenders for the Nobel prize - depending on the outcome of the experiment - and their spat is likely to send shockwaves through the scientific Establishment.