For many years two teams of physicists have worked independently to hunt for an energy field called the Higgs field and its byproduct a mysterious and elusive elementary sub atomic particle called the Higgs boson which were both first described in 1962 by Peter Higgs, a Scottish physicist at Edinburgh University.
To understand this theory we have to consider the properties of matter. Everything is composed of matter, which we can split into smaller and smaller particles, into molecules, then atoms, then sub atomic particles, electrons, hadrons (protons and neutrons), quarks until we reach an elementary particle. The study of the constituents of matter and their dynamics is called particle physics which is summarised by a theory called the Standard Model.
Although we tend to think of these elementary particles being somehow stuck together to form matter, this is inconsistent with modern quantum theories. According to these theories elementary particles, instead of clumping together, would have zero mass and would fly around the universe at the speed of light and behave like light photons. However we know from observation that the elementary particles combine into matter which has mass. To explain the origin of mass Peter Higgs developed a theory that an invisible energy field stretching throughout the universe switched on after the Big Bang, and that the interaction between particles and this field causes particles to drag, slow down and bind together to form matter with mass and weight. However light particles (photons) are not effected by the field and consequently do not have mass. This field was named the Higgs field in honour of Peter Higgs as was the Higgs boson, a particle that is a byproduct of the Higgs field.
To prove the existence of the theoretical Higgs field and Higgs boson it was necessary to create conditions that mimicked a microcosm of the time immediately after The Big Bang. A huge particle accelerator was built 100 metres underground in the European particle laboratory in Cern, near Geneva; this is called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In the LHC particles were accelerated for almost two years around a 27 kilometre ring at almost the speed of light. 1,000 trillion collisions between particles smashing into each other at such high speed eventually produced a flash of energy which was detected as a Higgs boson particle. The particle is short lived and rapidly disintegrates into light particles; the presence of the Higgs boson particle was detected by its light traces. The particle had a mass of 125-126 Gev about 130 times the mass of a proton.
This discovery is a milestone of scientific knowledge of nature; the all pervasive invisible energy field gives mass to matter. Without this field the universe, stars planets and life as we know it would not exist.