“It’s really an incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime,” said Peter Higgs, the theorist after whom the boson is named, struggling not to cry in front of the crowd.
The announcement comes nearly 50 years after Higgs and four other theorists predicted the existence of the boson. The particle was originally invoked to explain why particles called W and Z bosons have mass, whereas photons ”” particles of light ”” do not. W and Z bosons mediate the weak nuclear force (which governs certain types of radioactive decay), and photons mediate the electromagnetic force. So by explaining the difference in their masses, the Higgs boson allowed physicists to unite the two forces into a single ‘electroweak’ force.