During the Nobel prize announcements last month, Professors Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were honoured for their independent formulations, in 1964, of what later became known as the Higgs field.
At the time of the discovery, the standard model of particle physics was in crisis. Despite being able to accurately predict the existence of multiple species of particles, the theory was unable to explain why the vast majority particles have mass. The theory proposed by Higgs and Englert suggests the existence of a field that particles couple to at varying levels, resulting in them acquiring different masses.
In order to confirm the existence of such a field, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider were configured primarily to observe the decay of the Higgs boson, the particle responsible for coupling to the field. On July 4th 2012, results from both collaborations were presented to a seminar in which the observation of a new particle consistent with a Higgs-like signal. This was followed by results, presented at the Moriond Conference in March 2013, that further confirmed the observation as a Higgs boson.