Quantum theory says that the universe is made of two types of elementary particles, fermions and bosons. Fermions are matter, like the electron or the proton. Bosons are energy and can transmit forces, like the photon. In 1964, two groups of three theorists each proposed that the universe is pervaded by a molasses-like field, now called the Higgs field. As fermions pass through the field, they acquire mass. Without the field, the universe would literally fall apart; even atoms would no longer exists.The piece continues:
One of the physicists, Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, predicted that if this field were hit by the right amount of energy, it would produce a unique particle, which came to be known as the Higgs boson. Higgs was present at the CERN announcement Wednesday and said afterward that, "For me, it is an incredible thing that has happened in my lifetime."And at the video is Professor Higgs:
See also Instapundit: "CATCHING YOU UP ON the Higgs Boson."
And especially, "WHY THE HIGGS-PARTICLES IS SO IMPORTANT!"
BONUS: At the Economist, "The Higgs boson: Science’s great leap forward."