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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics 94

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jorge Cham, author of the comic strip Ph.D. comics, recently found himself on a bus crossing the Israel-Jordan border sitting next to Eilam Gross, head of the Atlas Higgs Group, one of the two groups that found the famous particle. When Cham asked Gross for feedback on the Higgs Boson animation he had done last year, Gross told Cham 'It's all wrong' and noted that he had yet to see a truly correct explanation of what the the Higgs Boson is. For the next three hours Gross, also known as the 'Mick Jagger of physics,' told Cham the story of the Higgs Boson and asked him to put it into a new comic strip. The result is a new comic re-explaining the Higgs Boson. 'So how does this explain things like inertia?' 'That's another bus ride.' As an interesting side note Gross was once asked what Higgs was good for and replied that when [J.J.] Thomson discovered the electron, in 1895, he raised a glass of champagne and proposed a toast 'to the useless electron.'"
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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics

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  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:25PM (#46331307)
    This explanation and comic are very good, but it makes the same fundamental mistake that so many physicists have made in trying to explain the Higgs field. It compares the field to molasses, slowing down particles by "sticking" to them, or providing some sort of friction to slow them down to sub-light speeds. This is fundamentally incorrect as molasses, or any other frictional medium, opposes the motion of particles, slowing them down until they eventually come to rest with respect to the frictional medium (molasses in this analogy). This is not at all how the Higgs field works. It doesn't oppose the motion of particles at all. In fact, Newton's law of inertia states that a body in motion will continue in motion at the same velocity until acted upon by an external force, and this is still true even in the presence of the Higgs field. There's nothing molasses-like about it at all. In fact, as a relativistic field the Higgs field has no rest frame. Put in other words, the Higgs field has no velocity of its own, zero or otherwise. If it did, it would break a fundamental symmetry law of special relativity: namely that all inertial frames of reference are equivalent. No field that behaves anything like molasses would be consistent with that principle.
  • Re:Stil waiting. (Score:5, Informative)

    by PacoSuarez ( 530275 ) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:29PM (#46331327)

    This is the best I've found so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @02:51AM (#46332065)

    Symmetry is very important in physics and math.
    1. It helps us solve equations. Nearly all algebraic equations that are solvable, are solvable because of symmetry. For example: linear equations have a specific symmetry that makes them easy. So the main reason we look for symmetrical equations, is that these are the only equations we can handle.

    2. Symmetry is an observed property of physics. The laws of physics don't change over time(time shift symmetry), they don't change by changing location(translational symmetry) and don't change by changing orientation(rotational symmetry). Newtonian physics doesn't change under acceleration(Galilean boost). However, Maxwell laws of EM aren't symmetrical under Galilean boost. Instead, Lorentz showed that they are symmetrical under Lorentz boost. Einstein determined that the Galilean boost is only an approximate symmetry, and that the Lorentz transformations were the real symmetry of physics. This is what led him to special relativity. A generalization of the Lorentz transformations to a local symmetry led to general relativity.

    3. A theorem by Emmy Noether, says that continuous symmetries of the Lagrangian create conservation laws:
    Time shift = Conservation of energy.
    Translation = Conservation of momentum.
    Rotation = Conservation of angular momentum.

"Dump the condiments. If we are to be eaten, we don't need to taste good." -- "Visionaries" cartoon