I’d be remiss to not mention this, though of course it’s everywhere today.The unobtainable has most likely been obtained and scientists everywhere are very, very excited. Press outlets are covering the story. It’s on the radio, on the news, and splattered about the web.
What does it mean, though? Perhaps the best bit of science communication on the topic comes in the form a brief animation (embedded below) from PhD Comics.
More useful information from World Science Festival, featuring Brian Greene:
Maggie Koerth-Baker, writing last year at Boing-Boing, describes the Higgs boson as follows:
You know that reality is like a Lego model, it’s made up of smaller parts. We are pieced together out of atoms. Atoms are made from protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are made of quarks. (Quarks and electrons, as far as we know, are elementary particles, with nothing smaller inside.) When you’re talking about the Higgs Boson, you’re talking about the mass of these particles. Here’s an imperfect analogy: A top quark, the most massive particle we know of, is like an elephant. An electron, on the other hand, is more like a mouse. And nobody knows for certain why those differences exist.
There is a theory, though. Back in the 1960s, a guy named Peter Higgs came up with the idea that all these particles exist in a field, and their mass is a reflection of how much they interact with that field. Heavy particles have a lot of interaction. Lighter particles are relatively standoffish. If this field exists, the Higgs Boson is the tiny thing it’s made of.
And, finally, some more useful reading: