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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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:00AM (#46331465)

    Higgs field doesn't "give" particles mass in any special way.
    It gives them mass just like, say, electric field or gravitational field might: through their potential energy in that field. Many particles, in order to exist, have potential energy in some field(s), and that energy is their mass (see Einstein) and that's all there is to it.

    For example protons and neutrons also have mass, but 99% of that mass is the energy of quarks holding themselves together. They don't need (and I think don't have at all) any energy in Higgs field and yet have mass perfectly fine.

  • by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:00AM (#46331467)

    I can see where you're coming from, but I read it as comparing the early universe to molasses, not the effect of the Higgs field as such. Soupy and homogeneous (mostly).

  • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @03:38AM (#46332033)

    tries to explain theory.

    There are lots of misconceptions Symmetry, for example, does not prevent divergences.Divergences are still present although in a controllable way. That's what renormalization and the renormalization group is all about. If a symmetry is broken through quantum mechanical processes then the breaking can lead to new divergences which turn out to be uncontrollable if they do not follow a certain patterns. The symmetry leads to a conserved quantity and a current following the basic rule that the amount of current goes in determines the change in the conserved quantity ( charge ). In the case of QCD, for example, the charge is color ( red, The pattern need to control the divergences caused by quantum color violations is that the sum of the current leakage has to equal zero.

    This essentially says that quarks have to appear in pairs to cancel charge violations. So once a bottom quark was seen, there had to be a top quark.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the Higgs mechanism though.

    The Higgs mechanism is based on the fact symmetry depends on two things. The laws of motion and the initial conditions. I can take a puck on a smooth surface and push in any direction and the motion will look the same. That's because the laws of motion and the initial conditions both obey a symmetry. If I replace the smooth surface with one with random bumps the motion will not look the same in all directions. The laws of motion are still the same in each direction, but the inital conditions no longer are. That's the Higgs mechanism at it's crudest.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen