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← The Hunting of the Higgs: what is it and why does it matter?

The Hunting of the Higgs: what is it and why does it matter? - Comments

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 1 by Cartomancer

Why does it matter? Because it "does" matter.

(i,e. it is responsible for the existence of matter as we know it.)

Well I thought it was a good joke, even if you do need instrumentation that works on a quantum scale to discern the humour...

But at least I know roughly how this LHC business is supposed to fit into things now. Thank you Lawrence!

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 22:55:51 UTC | #898398

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 2 by Red Dog

One of the things that I find interesting is that if the Higgs field does turn out to exist then the idea of an ether that permeates all space, something that physicists looked for in the 19th century and then realized didn't exist, will turn out to exist after all. I realize that the Higgs field doesn't satisfy the same purpose as the ether was supposed to but it still seems similar to me.

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 23:31:40 UTC | #898410

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 3 by Alternative Carpark

Higgs Boson enters a church. The priest comes up to it and says, "I'm sorry, but you are not welcome here". The Higgs Boson, quite surprised, replies, "But, without me, you can't have mass!".

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 01:24:52 UTC | #898442

Quetzalcoatlus's Avatar Comment 4 by Quetzalcoatlus

Prof Krauss,

Why some people call the Higgs Boson the God Particle? Maybe it is because it allows to create a Universe from nothing?

If only one particle is found would that mean that the superstrings theory is wrong?

How all these discoveries are changed after the discovery of particles that travel faster than the speed of light? Do we need a new Einstein to make sense of all these discoveries?

Thanks

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 09:32:35 UTC | #898521

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 5 by Schrodinger's Cat

Getting something from nothing is one of the great developments in physics in the last century

I'd say it's been surpassed by the sheer ability to use the word 'nothing' on an almost daily basis to describe something which, on closer inspection, isn't actually nothing. Why do physicists keep doing this ? No.....a vacuum fluctuation is not 'nothing' in the sense that 99% of the rest of humanity would define nothing.

Can physicists please finally invent a word other than 'nothing' to describe this....er.....nothing.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 09:50:41 UTC | #898528

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 6 by Steve Zara

It's a good article, but there is this one thing mention that confused me for years:

Why particles transmit forces is like thinking of playing catch. If I throw a ball to you and you catch it, then you will be pushed backwards by the force of my ball, and I will by pushed backward by the act of throwing the ball.. Thus we act like we repel each other in this case.

I understand the need to simplify things, but It's not really like that. It can't be, otherwise how could anything ever attract? If you and I throw a ball back and forth, we aren't even going to be pulled together.

A better way to think of what is happening is that it's not a ball that is being thrown, but a note on a bit of paper: a message. A message about change. It could be a message that says "change momentum", or it could be a message that says "change charge". It's not the receiving of the message that changes things, like the catching of a ball, but the content of the message. It's rather like receiving a bank note. The worth of the note is not its weight, but what it says.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:01:11 UTC | #898533

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 7 by strangebrew

And all of a sudden it is not a singular but a plural hunt!...they like doing things the easy way do they not?

I was happy enough that they obviously found an anomalous signal...at +/- 3 sigma I could live with that....now they will be looking for two...or are they both under the same energy signature?...with one possibly masking the second...or is that a naive question?...summat tells me that is likely...but Quantum is a very strange land with very exotic customs.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:10:28 UTC | #898539

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 8 by Alex, adv. diab.

Comment 6 by Steve Zara :

It's a good article, but there is this one thing mention that confused me for years:

Why particles transmit forces is like thinking of playing catch. If I throw a ball to you and you catch it, then you will be pushed backwards by the force of my ball, and I will by pushed backward by the act of throwing the ball.. Thus we act like we repel each other in this case.

I understand the need to simplify things, but It's not really like that. It can't be, otherwise how could anything ever attract?

Excellent, Steve. This is exactly what has always bothered me about this picture. The upshot is - virtual particles are not like balls ;)

If you and I throw a ball back and forth, we aren't even going to be pulled together.

A better way to think of what is happening is that it's not a ball that is being thrown, but a note on a bit of paper: a message. A message about change. It could be a message that says "change momentum", or it could be a message that says "change charge". It's not the receiving of the message that changes things, like the catching of a ball, but the content of the message. It's rather like receiving a bank note. The worth of the note is not its weight, but what it says.

Well I don't know if the transmission it's really that abstract. In Feynman's picture, the virtual particle that is exchanged really carries the momentum from one particle to the other. It's just that for virtual particles, the transmission of momentum can not simply be thought of as the particle moving from point a to point b like a ball.

Comment 4 by Quetzalcoatlus :

Why some people call the Higgs Boson the God Particle?

To boost book sales.

Maybe it is because it allows to create a Universe from nothing?

No, forget the name, it's stupid.

If only one particle is found would that mean that the superstrings theory is wrong?

No, it's (un)fortunately not that easy to rule out the superstring experimentally.

How all these discoveries are changed after the discovery of particles that travel faster than the speed of light? Do we need a new Einstein to make sense of all these discoveries?

Assuming that the superluminal results are correct, their impact depends a lot on the precise reason why they are superluminal. It could be a real revolution, or it could be a minor adjustment of the present theory.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:25:44 UTC | #898542

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 9 by Alex, adv. diab.

Comment 7 by strangebrew :

And all of a sudden it is not a singular but a plural hunt!

Actually, what Professor Krauss says is not completely accurate. The inclusion of supersymmetry forces us go from one Higgs field related particles to five: three neutral ones, a charged one and its antiparticle. He mentions the number two because only one of the additional four Higgs bosons has exactly the same properties as the "first" Higgs boson (it has nothing to do with the "doubling" of particles due to supersymmetry). All those Higgs particles in supersymmetric theories are not expected to be at the same mass scale - there is usually one light Higgs below ~ 130 GeV, while the others are generically significantly heavier.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:34:17 UTC | #898549

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

Unfortunately, I'm none the wiser.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:35:06 UTC | #898551

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 11 by strangebrew

Comment 4 by Quetzalcoatlus

Why some people call the Higgs Boson the God Particle?

As with many things in this life the god particle is a misquote...Leon Max Lederman apparently wanted to call it 'That god-damned particle' cos it was rather elusive.

Peter Higgs was probably not best pleased...he is an atheist.

If only one particle is found would that mean that the superstrings theory is wrong?

As I understand it it might require a revamp but it is early days and physicists seem somewhat divided by superstring anyway...not all but some.

How all these discoveries are changed after the discovery of particles that travel faster than the speed of light?

IF there are particles that travel faster then light. That has not been confirmed...it rather looks like a calibration error...but time will tell!

Do we need a new Einstein to make sense of all these discoveries?

Not yet!...seems Albert is as near to dammit with his explanations not withstanding a few tweaks along the way!

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:35:41 UTC | #898552

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 12 by strangebrew

Comment 9 by Alex, adv. diab.

Thanx that really goes to crystal clarity...

But I understand my confusion a little better...cheers!

So if the Higgs signature is rated at 125 GeV...that would explain why I come across the odd sentence about it being a light one...does that mean a heavy Higgs would be above 125 GeV? say 140 or 150 GeV More energy more mass potential is my thinking there.... But I was under the illusion that they had already checked there?

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 10:48:11 UTC | #898556

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 13 by Steve Zara

Comment 8 by Alex, adv. diab.

In Feynman's picture, the virtual particle that is exchanged really carries the momentum from one particle to the other.

Yes, but it's not carrying momentum because of its movement, as in the thrown ball analogy.

Also, forces can carry other things than momentum. Gluons (the mediators of the Strong Force) can carry "colour" changes.

Perhaps we should think of them as paint-balls, or dollar bills covered in ink? :)

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 11:07:15 UTC | #898559

legal9ball's Avatar Comment 14 by legal9ball

But wait. James Woodward says the Higgs is NOT the origin of mass.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/12/higgs-and-mach-effect.html

"We now know that at cosmic scale space is flat, so critical cosmic matter density obtains. That means that phi [the total scalar gravitational potential] equals c2. So, in Einstein's second law c2 can be replaced by phi, and now m * phi = E. It takes no genius to read this to say that E is the total gravitational potential energy -- and that the origin of E in SRT is due to the gravitational interaction. Since m arises from E (irrespective of whether E is due to zero or non-zero restmass stuff), the origin of mass is the gravitational interaction [not the Higgs process].

The Higgs is irrelevant to the Mach considerations. The Higgs is NOT the origin of mass-energy (as Wilczek has repeatedly pointed out). It is a process that confers RESTMASS on otherwise zero restmass particles. Those zero restmass particles, via m = E/c2, have mass if they have energy. The origin of mass is the question of the origin of mass-energy. Mach's principle does have something to say about that."

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:36:29 UTC | #898571

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 15 by KenChimp

Comment 5 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Getting something from nothing is one of the great developments in physics in the last century

I'd say it's been surpassed by the sheer ability to use the word 'nothing' on an almost daily basis to describe something which, on closer inspection, isn't actually nothing. Why do physicists keep doing this ? No.....a vacuum fluctuation is not 'nothing' in the sense that 99% of the rest of humanity would define nothing.

Can physicists please finally invent a word other than 'nothing' to describe this....er.....nothing.

My philosophy professor from college would state (as he did), that it is a "relative" nothing. The question then remains as to whether or not there can be any nothing other than a relative nothing. In other words, is it possible for there to be absolutely nothing?

My vote is no, but I'm just a UNIX monkey.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:37:12 UTC | #898572

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 16 by Southpaw

Is there a physical law that describes the point at which particle physics starts flying over the heads of doofuses (doofi?) like me? It's clearly seen around the third chapter of most popular physics books like A Brief History of Time, and I've just encountered it about halfway through these comments.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:41:25 UTC | #898574

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 17 by KenChimp

Comment 6 by Steve Zara :

It's a good article, but there is this one thing mention that confused me for years:

Why particles transmit forces is like thinking of playing catch. If I throw a ball to you and you catch it, then you will be pushed backwards by the force of my ball, and I will by pushed backward by the act of throwing the ball.. Thus we act like we repel each other in this case.

I understand the need to simplify things, but It's not really like that. It can't be, otherwise how could anything ever attract? If you and I throw a ball back and forth, we aren't even going to be pulled together.

A better way to think of what is happening is that it's not a ball that is being thrown, but a note on a bit of paper: a message. A message about change. It could be a message that says "change momentum", or it could be a message that says "change charge". It's not the receiving of the message that changes things, like the catching of a ball, but the content of the message. It's rather like receiving a bank note. The worth of the note is not its weight, but what it says.

Good point. What is being exchanged is information, and that is an important distinction.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:44:09 UTC | #898575

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 18 by Alex, adv. diab.

Comment 14 by legal9ball :

But wait. James Woodward says the Higgs is NOT the origin of mass.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/12/higgs-and-mach-effect.html

James Woodward apparently has smoked some bad granola...

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:51:10 UTC | #898578

mmurray's Avatar Comment 19 by mmurray

10 minutes to go. Live blog here. Links on there to webcast.

Michael

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 12:51:24 UTC | #898579

TheChrissetti's Avatar Comment 20 by TheChrissetti

I've been looking forward to Professor Krauss's book ever since I first watched his 'Universe from Nothing' lecture.

This is the first article I've read which actually explains why the Higgs-Boson particle is required in the standard model.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 13:04:55 UTC | #898582

davem's Avatar Comment 21 by davem

This bear of little brain asks:

If the Higgs gives mass to other particles, how come it has mass itself?

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:12:50 UTC | #898596

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara

Comment 21 by davem

If the Higgs gives mass to other particles, how come it has mass itself?

Because it interacts with itself!

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:13:45 UTC | #898597

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 23 by Tyler Durden

Comment 22 by Steve Zara :

If the Higgs gives mass to other particles, how come it has mass itself?

Because it interacts with itself!

Isn't that a sin?

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:17:45 UTC | #898598

Net's Avatar Comment 24 by Net

but what is it???

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:23:12 UTC | #898600

veggiemanuk's Avatar Comment 25 by veggiemanuk

'So, if there is a Higgs field, it turns out that there has to be a new particle associated with this field, and this is the Higgs particle.'

I can never remember which way round it is but shouldn't that be, Boson Field and Higgs Particle?

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:54:15 UTC | #898605

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 26 by Alex, adv. diab.

For this important point I would like to refer you to my longish comment on the last Higgs thread. The Higgs is only necessary to produce masses when those masses are forbidden by the symmetries of the standard model. Spin 0 particles like the Higgs are not constrained this way. That being said, it is true what Steve says, the higgs interacts with itself and thus gives us the mass it actually has.

Actually, Higgs' idea was to give the squared higgs mass an negative value to begin with, which destabilizes the vacuum and gives the higgs field itself a constant value in the vacuum, which in return through the higgs interaction with itself shifts the squared higgs mass to the stable positive value which we would observe now.

Comment 21 by davem :

This bear of little brain asks:

If the Higgs gives mass to other particles, how come it has mass itself?

Comment 22 by Steve Zara :

Comment 21 by davem

If the Higgs gives mass to other particles, how come it has mass itself?

Because it interacts with itself!

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 15:05:31 UTC | #898609

Alex, adv. diab.'s Avatar Comment 27 by Alex, adv. diab.

Comment 25 by veggiemanuk :

'So, if there is a Higgs field, it turns out that there has to be a new particle associated with this field, and this is the Higgs particle.'

I can never remember which way round it is but shouldn't that be, Boson Field and Higgs Particle?

The "Higgs field" is a "bosonic field", the " Higgs particle" is a "boson"

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 15:06:46 UTC | #898610

Poeteye's Avatar Comment 28 by Poeteye

FEARFUL SYMMETRY (from Songs Of Experiments) -- James Ph. Kotsybar

Beyond notice, out of sight in dimensions curled up tight, shall only weakened gravity suggest your supersymmetry?

Do you match, sine qua non, boson to a fermion? Will you ever edify how the forces unify?

In what quanta, small or large will we find your mass and charge? In what membranes do you roam? Which dimensions call you home?

In magnetic chambers narrow, will you tell us of time’s arrow? Have you broken, in the past? How long do your components last?

Quarks from gluons will divide when we make hadrons collide: Will this show us where you hide or leave us still unsatisfied?

Beyond notice, out of site in dimensions curled up tight, will only highest energy reveal your supersymmetry?

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 16:48:40 UTC | #898635

Poeteye's Avatar Comment 29 by Poeteye

UNPUBLISHED FINDINGS -- James Ph. Kotsybar

They granulate the universe to pulp crashing particles only newly found. They figure their trajectories and gulp, “So much data upon which to expound!” Their energies unbound by quantum course, they separate the world we think we know. They rip particles into force by force. Unification’s where they say they’ll go. When, at last, they prove life is illusion, where do you think they’ll publish the result? They may just ascend beyond confusion and leave us in the lurch of the occult, for once that testimony’s imparted, expostulation just seems false-hearted.

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 16:56:16 UTC | #898639

Poeteye's Avatar Comment 30 by Poeteye

QUANTUM MELODY -- James Ph.Kotsybar

Below subatomic, the particles slip through Heisenberg’s uncertainty nets. They cannot even be called articles; they’re just mathematical epithets. Though we may say they have up or down spins (we may even find them charming or strange), l ike angels that dance on the heads of pins, it takes metaphysics to find their range. They have no shape we can define, except as bleary fields of energy. Until we measure them, there’s no place where they’re kept; their locus is totally vibratile. They pluck at space like an instrument string, at this scale. Quark! The hadron angels sing!

Tue, 13 Dec 2011 16:58:05 UTC | #898640