News of the possible discovery of the Higgs boson has created a lot of excitement, especially in popular culture owing to its characterization as the ‘God particle.’
The Higgs boson is a crucial ‘center piece’ in this puzzle that is our universe and in our limited purview, we as physicists and philosophers have made incredible progress in characterizing what we see around us, in terms of beautiful mathematics.
The Higgs mechanism (not the boson itself) was postulated as a manner to give mass to seemingly massless elementary particles. Without mass, these elementary particles would not bind to form matter as we know it, and hence, there had to be a way these elementary particles acquired mass.
Let’s step a couple of layers back. Think about a nucleus. Think about a nucleus having two proton and one neutron. That is, He_3 (helium 3). How do we distinguish the protons from the neutron? The protons carry a positive charge, while the neutrons have no charge. The protons that possess a positive charge are expected to strongly repel each other due to electric forces.