My understanding is that the higgs field is like a net, the “heavier” something is the more it interacts with the net. And the higgs boson is an excitation of this net, like if someone flapped the net and caused one of the knots to jerk arround. Physicists have equations and they have predictions to what the propertires of this excitiation, or of this “knot” (higgs boson) should be, and the properties of this new particle are very similair to the predicted properties of the higgs boson. So the net itself has no weight but when it’s excited it does, the rest of the net pulls on it. (reddit comment)
So, CERN announced that they found evidence of the Higgs Boson yesterday. I imagine the theory of this particle and the Higgs Field will be taught in schools in years to come and it’ll be just-another-thing-to-learn for hard pressed students preparing for exams. Today, it’s exciting in that “Oh, this is great news! The LHC found something! I wish I understood what!” sort of way. It’s not going to mean much to most people but it’s still a remarkable discovery.
The technology that detected the short lived Higgs Boson is amazing too. We’ve all seen photos the LHC, the long tunnels and gigantic machinery but the BBC Discovery Podcast interviewed Tejinder Virdee a few weeks ago about the project. He’s responsible for the CMS detector in the LHC, and likens it to a 100MP 3D digital camera that can take 40 million photos a second. Well worth a listen.
In other news, Steven Hawking is out of pocket today after the discovery!