Of bosons and balls
A number of newpapers and websites were trying to find a way of explaining to a nine- year-old the significance of today's announcement that researchers at CERN have found a Higgs particle (whether it's THE Higgs particle or the first of a family of Higgses remains to be clarified).
OK, here goes...
Scientists have a pretty good idea of what makes the universe work. They reckon that all the forces in nature happen because of tiny particles being batted backwards and forwards between atoms (or between other sorts of particle). They have found the things that get batted to and from to make magnets work, and electricity. They've found the things that do the same trick for the force holding atoms together. But until today they had never actually found the one that made gravity work: the one that keeps you stuck to the floor instead of flying off into space at the speed of light! So scientists are very pleased because it means their ideas were probably right and they don't have to start all over again working out how the universe works.
Or then again, you can read this wonderful story by Isaac Asimov, and think of Bloom's machine as creating a field which excludes Higgs bosons from within it: a kind of anti-Higgs field.