GENEVA — All matter is made of atoms. The nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons. These protons and neutrons are, in turn, composed of subatomic particles, including up and down quarks, and force carriers. One of these force carriers is known as the Higgs boson.
The Higgs field permeates all of space and gives elementary subatomic particles mass through its interactions with them, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Different particles interact with it in different ways.
With virtually no mass, electrons pass through the Higgs field virtually unimpeded. On the other hand, top quarks, which have heavier masses, interact more strongly with the field, according to Symmetry Magazine.
In 2012, scientists working at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, proved the existence of the Higgs boson particle within the Higgs field, describing it on CERN’s website as “the visible manifestation of the Higgs field, rather like a wave at the surface of the sea.”
The particle was discovered by sending protons racing around the world’s largest particle accelerator at nearly the speed of light. The protons smashed into each other with enough energy to generate a Higgs boson.
SOURCES: CMS Collaboration, Science Alert, Symmetry Magazine, Encyclopedia Britannica