Systems of cold atoms can sometimes give rise to behavior surprisingly like free particles moving close to the speed of light. However, unlike the kind of physics you see in experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the "particles" are actually collective phenomena, arising out of strong interactions among the components of the system. By manipulating the properties of the material, researchers can produce behavior analogous to many interesting systems in high energy physics—only at very low temperatures and with a "speed of light" dictated by the material's characteristics.
A new experiment by Manuel Endres and colleagues has achieved a Higgs-like excitation in a system composed of ultracold rubidium atoms. By pushing the atoms to a quantum critical point, where they change from an insulator to a superfluid, they were able to generate a transition that was analogous to the break in symmetry that gives rise to the Higgs field.
One of the cornerstones of quantum field theory is that each particle's properties depends on its interactions. This is true whether the particle is on its own, in an atom, or part of a larger material. The Higgs field is just one of a number of these interactions.