The Higgs Boson

The Higgs boson is a particle which explains why other particles have mass.


It is one of the deep insights of particle physics that most particles don’t have any intrinsic mass at all. The Standard Model tells us that all of the fundamental particles, from the electron to the W boson, ought to pick up their mass by interacting with a field that surrounds them. This “Higgs” field must then exist everywhere in the universe - but how can we know if it’s there? In 1964 Peter Higgs noted that this field could be excited, and that this excitation of the field would appear as a new type of particle – a so-called “Higgs boson” particle.

If the new particle exists then it should be produced in high-energy collisions. Part of the energy of the collision is converted into the mass of the new particle, according to Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2.

It was more than 50 years before the technology developed which allowed this prediction to be tested. Engineers and physicists from around the world came together to create a unique machine – the Large Hadron Collider – which could prove or disprove the Higgs theory. They looked for the distinctive signatures coming from Higgs bosons, just as you can do yourself with Collider.

More information

The discovery of a new particle, consistent with the one predicted by Prof Higgs, was announced in July 2012 in two papers by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, summarised in Science magazine.
For more information about the Higgs Boson visit the CERN website.