An easy to understand article explaining what the Higgs boson is and why it matters.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the so called Higgs boson. But what the heck is it, and why should you care? Well if you ask a theoretical physicist, they’ll try to explain it to you, but you probably won’t understand half of the words they use to do so. So I’m going to explain it (as best I understand it anyway), in a much simpler and easier to understand way without dumbing it down too much for you to see why it’s important.
First of all, you probably want to know what the Higgs boson is. Well, it’s one of the particles that make up what’s called the Standard Model (there are 16 different fundamental particles in this model), which are the smallest pieces of stuff that make up everything that exists (that we know about).
So what is a fundamental particle? Well as you might remember from high school chemistry class an atom is a tiny particle that has a nucleus made up of a clump of neutrons and protons, with one or more electrons that are flying around it all the time, super fast. So to make up an atom, you need neutrons, protons, and electrons. Well electrons happen to be one of the particles in the Standard Model. But as it turns out, protons and neutrons are not because they are actually made up of other things. We know this because if you take a couple of protons and shoot them at each other really, really, really fast, they smash into smaller pieces of stuff. Those smaller pieces of stuff are the fundamental particles. Fundamental particles are things that can’t be broken down any further than they are – if you smash them together, they just hit each other really hard and bounce off each other rather than break into smaller pieces.
So these smaller pieces are the fundamental particles that make up the Standard Model. And they have weird names too (leptons, quarks, and bosons). To make it even more complicated, each of those have more than one type. And one of the types of bosons is called the Higgs boson. Think of it in terms of fruits. You could think of the groups of fundamental particles like groups of fruits. Leptons are melons, quarks are berries, and bosons are apples. So then within those groups are different types. So for bosons, one of the types of boson is the Higgs boson. This would be like one of the types of apples would be a Fuji apple.