Der britische Minister für Wissenschaft wollte wissen, wonach die Teilchenphysiker eigentlich suchen und forderte sie auf, ihm auf einer DIN A4-Seite zu erklären, was das Higgs-Boson sei. Hier ist die Erklärung von David Miller vom Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College, London, UK.
In three dimensions, and with the complications of relativity, this is the Higgs mechanism. In order to give particles mass, a background field is invented which becomes locally distorted whenever a particle moves through it. The distortion - the clustering of the field around the particle - generates the particle's mass. The idea comes directly from the physics of solids. instead of a field spread throughout all space a solid contains a lattice of positively charged crystal atoms. When an electron moves through the lattice the atoms are attracted to it, causing the electron's effective mass to be as much as 40 times bigger than the mass of a free electron.
The postulated Higgs field in the vacuum is a sort of hypothetical lattice which fills our Universe. We need it because otherwise we cannot explain why the Z and W particles which carry the weak interactions are so heavy while the photon which carries electromagnetic forces is massless.
The Higgs boson is predicted to be just such a clustering in the Higgs field. We will find it much easier to believe that the field exists, and that the mechanism for giving other particles is true, if we actually see the Higgs particle itself. Again, there are analogies in the physics of solids. A crystal lattice can carry waves of clustering without needing an electron to move and attract the atoms. These waves can behave as if they are particles. They are called phonons and they too are bosons.
There could be a Higgs mechanism, and a Higgs field throughout our Universe, without there being a Higgs boson. The next generation of colliders will sort this out.