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+Sean Carroll suggests the right way to explain the Higgs mechanism (and the associated field, of which the famous particle is the quantum) to a popular audience.

I agree that this is the right way to go about it. That the Higgs ends up having to give quarks and leptons their masses is kind of a sidelight. The main thing is that you can explain the weak nuclear force (the one that is involved in beta decay) using a type of field that you'd think would not have that kind of short range.
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