Without the Higgs boson, physicists have no way to explain how the universe — stars, galaxies, us — can exist. The boson is a particle, like a quark or an electron, but this is really a component of a force field known as the Higgs field. It's like a universal stickiness that all things feel. A photon is a good analogy, says Paul Padley, a particle physicist at Rice University. It's a light particle, but it also carries the electromagnetic force. The Higgs boson is a similar force carrier. According to theory, every other particle, every little quark and lepton, interacts with this sticky field; this interaction gives them their mass. Mass allows the particles to interact with each other, combining into atoms and molecules and stars and us.