The Higgs boson or Higgs particle is an elementary particle initially theorised in 1964, whose discovery was announced at CERN on 4 July 2012. The discovery has been called "monumental" because it appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field, which is pivotal to the Standard Model and other theories within particle physics. It would explain why some fundamental particles have mass when the symmetries controlling their interactions should require them to be massless, and why the weak force has a much shorter range than the electromagnetic force. The discovery of a Higgs boson should allow physicists to finally validate the last untested area of the Standard Model's approach to fundamental particles and forces, guide other theories and discoveries in particle physics, and potentially lead to developments in "new" physics.
This unanswered question in fundamental physics is of such importance that it led to a search of more than 40 years for the Higgs boson and finally the construction of one of the world's most expensive and complex experimental facilities to date, the Large Hadron Collider, able to create Higgs bosons and other particles for observation and study. On 4 July 2012, it was announced that a previously unknown particle with a mass between 125 and 127 GeV/c2 (134.2 and 136.3 amu) had been detected; physicists suspected at the time that it was the Higgs boson. By March 2013, the particle had been proven to behave, interact and decay in many of the ways predicted by the Standard Model, and was also tentatively confirmed to have positive parity and zero spin, two fundamental attributes of a Higgs boson. This appears to be the first elementary scalar particle discovered in nature. More data is needed to know if the discovered particle exactly matches the predictions of the Standard Model, or whether, as predicted by some theories, multiple Higgs bosons exist.
The Higgs boson is named after Peter Higgs, one of six physicists who, in 1964, proposed the mechanism that suggested the existence of such a particle. Although Higgs's name has come to be associated with this theory, several researchers between about 1960 and 1972 each independently developed different parts of it. In mainstream media the Higgs boson has often been called the "God particle", from a 1993 book on the topic; the nickname is strongly disliked by many physicists, including Higgs, who regard it as inappropriate sensationalism. In 2013 two of the original researchers, Peter Higgs and François Englert, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work and prediction Englert's co-researcher Robert Brout had died in 2011, and except in unusual circumstances, the Nobel is not given posthumously.
In the Standard Model, the Higgs particle is a boson with no spin, electric charge, or color charge. It is also very unstable, decaying into other particles almost immediately. It is a quantum excitation of one of the four components of the Higgs field. The latter constitutes a scalar field, with two neutral and two electrically charged components, and forms a complex doublet of the weak isospin SU symmetry. The field has a "Mexican hat" shaped potential with nonzero strength everywhere (including otherwise empty space) which in its vacuum state breaks the weak isospin symmetry of the electroweak interaction. When this happens, three components of the Higgs field are "absorbed" by the SU and U gauge bosons (the "Higgs mechanism") to become the longitudinal components of the now-massive W and Z bosons of the weak force. The remaining electrically neutral component separately couples to other particles known as fermions (via Yukawa couplings), causing these to acquire mass as well. Some versions of the theory predict more than one kind of Higgs fields and bosons. Alternative "Higgsless" models would have been considered if the Higgs boson were not discovered.