Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Book Prize 2011
Why does anything have mass? This simple question baffled generations of scholars, but in 1964 a British physicist named Peter Higgs, along with five others, stumbled on an answer.
Higgs's handwritten notes described an invisible field that pervades the cosmos and gives mass to the building blocks of nature. Life, he said, could not exist without it.
A tell-tale particle called the Higgs boson could prove the theory, but to produce it scientists would need to recreate the fiery conditions of the early universe.
Unwittingly, Higgs and the rest had sparked the greatest hunt in modern science. As scientists close in on the elusive prize, we stand to gain not only the secret of mass, but a door to hidden realms of the universe.