London: An Indian-origin physicist, best known for his work on the Large Hadron Collider experiment, has been accorded an honorary knighthood by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for his achievements in science.
Tejinder Virdee, of Imperial College in London, was named a Knight Bachelor for his services to science in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, released here yesterday evening.
His citation reads, “Professor Virdee is one of the UK's most distinguished physicists and, as one of the creators of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Experiment he has made outstanding contributions to science”.
“The CMS experiment, at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, has delivered seminal results in particle physics, including the groundbreaking discovery of the Higgs Boson, or the God particle, a particle that gives mass to other particles”.
“Beyond his innovative work in particle physics, he is also a great campaigner for science, and promoter of science and education in Africa and India,” the citation says.
Virdee, 61, developed new technologies within the detector that ultimately allowed it to find the Higgs - the mechanism which explains how sub-atomic particles came to have substance, or mass. Both he and colleague Tom Kibble, also of Imperial College, become knights in the honours list.
“The Higgs is a very special type of particle - one we've never seen before. It has strange properties that we need to understand. This award was a complete surprise to me. It's really quite humbling and of course I'm delighted to receive it. I'm over the moon to be frank,” Virdee said.
Another Indian-origin scientist, Anupam Ojha - director of the National Space Academy - receives an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the list.
Besides scientists, Hollywood actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie was named an honorary ‘Dame' - the female equivalent of ‘Sir' - for her work combating sexual violence in war zones.
The 39-year-old Oscar winner, who has spent much of this week co-chairing a London summit on war rape with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, was one of hundreds of people recognised in the Queen's annual Birthday Honours List for services to their community.
Triple Oscar-winning actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, becomes ‘Sir' for services to drama and British actress Maggie Smith joins the elite Companions of Honour while author Hilary Mantel, golfer Laura Davies and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes are among the other ‘Dames'.
A total of 1,149 people have been awarded in this year's Birthday Honours List, released to mark the Queen's official birthday.