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

KenChimp's Avatar Jump to 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