The man behind the Higgs particle

5 January 2000

Peter Higgs sm

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One of the challenges for particle physics in the 21st century is to discover whether the particles known as Higgs bosons really exist. In the late 1960s, Peter Higgs and others proposed a mechanism that would endow particles with mass, even though they appeared originally in a theory - and possibly in the Universe! - with no mass at all. The basic idea is that all particles acquire their mass through interactions with an all-pervading field, called the Higgs field. which is carried by the Higgs bosons. This mechanism is an important part of the Standard Model of particles and forces, for it explains the masses of the carriers of the weak force, responsible for beta-decay and for nuclear reactions that fuel the Sun.

Credit: Peter Tuffy, Edinburgh University