Written by dr.eng. Mircea Gh.Ruse & Godinci
Along with the technological advances and theoretical breakthroughs the hopes are high that we can finally penetrate into the hidden nature of the universe. The discovery and validation of the existence of the Higgs field fulfills an important role in our endeavor to understand the universe since without the Higgs field the universe would have no atoms, molecules, chemical reactions, or material objects.
What is the Higgs field?
The standard Model (SM) tries to explain how quarks and leptons interact in terms of three forces:
- The electromagnetic force
- The strong nuclear force
- Weak nuclear force.
The bosons that carry the electromagnetic force are called photons. Gluons are the mediators of the strong nuclear force carriers, while W and Z bosons are believed to be responsible for the weak nuclear force. Gravity is not part of the standard model but the graviton is hypothesized of being its force carrier.
Outlining you why Gravity according to today’s physics isn’t included in the standard model is rather technical and not the scope of this article; however, the roots of this exclusion is mainly because Einstein’s concept of gravity isn’t attainable on the quantum level – to overcome this hurdle string theory was called to the rescue but this is altogether another discussion.
Furthermore, all particles according to the standard model are in essence mass less, yet, matter-particles clearly exhibit mass, and so, a mechanism was required that could account for a particle’s mass. The solution to this problem was by postulating that vacuum (also called empty space) has actually energy, and that those particles that exhibit mass results as a consequence of vacuum energy absorption that is responsible for the mass effect. When we could delete all matter in the universe than vacuum would still be present; this invisible energy field that exists throughout the universe and was part of the initial singularity that underwent a Big Bang is what science came to call the Higgs Field
After some serious quantum mathematical considerations it’s further believed that during the early stages of the universal expansion the Higgs field was inactive; at this stage particles, be they matter-like or not, where all travelling with the maxim achievable speed in Nature which is supposedly equal to the speed of light in vacuum.
Although the principles and mechanisms by which the Higgs field could be turned-off aren’t as yet understood, scientist are pretty sure that once the universe started to cool down the Higgs field began to interact by default with matter-particle (such as electrons, protons and neutrons) and their constituents (in case of the proton and neutrons these are quarks).
It’s at this stage that atoms, stars and galaxies could form because as they were ‘moving through’ and ‘interacting with’ the Higgs field they slowed down and got mass; the stronger the Higgs field couples with the particles the more mass the particles exhibit.
To better appreciate how the Higgs field interact with matter-particles we’ll make use to some extend of John Gunion, an American physicist, analogy. John Gunion compares somehow the Higgs field with a cosmos-size swimming pool while all particles contained within are like people swimming in it. A particle that interacts strongly with the Higgs field is in this regard comparable with a man swimming with all his winter clothes on hereby absorbing much water what makes him heavy and less maneuverable, while a lighter particle is comparable with an Olympic swimmer in a wet-suit that slices just as a hot knife through butter. The process of endowing a particle with mass is known as the Higgs Effect.
Its general accepted and postulated that objects exhibiting more mass interact more with the field, while things that have no mass, like the photon, do not interact at all.
At first this sound confusing because if the level of interaction of matter-particles with the Higgs field is responsible for the mass than saying that the more massive a matter-particle is the stronger its interaction with the Higgs field becomes seems rather a demonstration of circular reasoning.
To bypass this paradox we have to recollect ourselves that we’re dealing here with quantum mechanics, and quantum mechanics in its current interpretation isn’t a substitute for commonsense but rather the sole product of mathematical reasoning and formalism; in this regard, every mechanism that works on paper becomes a potential, ore better stated ‘a feasible probability’.
The Higgs field does according to today’s accepted quantum rules only apply to the electro-weak part of the standard model; hence, protons and neutrons require therefore a special treatment. The general consensus is that protons and neutrons are composed of quarks and according to the best estimates the quarks interaction with the Higgs fields account only for one 1% of the nuclei mass.
To understand where the other 99% of the nuclei mass comes from we have to recollect Einstein’s formula of E=mc^2 that seems to indicate that Energy is somehow convertible in mass and vice versa; now, quarks within a nuclei are assumedly hold together by means of very energetic gluon fields that is somehow responsible for 99% of the mass in nuclei thru the process of mass-energy conversion.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that according to Godinci the whole idea of mass-energy conversion is rather a delusional concept, if true, than the nature and origin of mass is still an open question.
What about the Higgs boson?
In quantum field theory particles, be they matter-like or not, are “just” excitations of those fields, hence, an electron becomes a localized excitation of the “electron field”, and a Higgs boson (Higgs particle) becomes a localized excitation of the Higgs field.
In case you have trouble imagining the Higgs boson just think for analogical resemblance of an ocean of pure water; here the ocean represents the Higgs field and the water-molecules making up the ocean become the Higgs bosons.
The Higgs bosons are omnipresent in the Higgs field and fill the whole micro-macro universe. Higgs bosons, just as most quantum virtual particles, jump in and out of existence and have only a life-time of a trillionth of a second, nevertheless, this short life-time is sufficient to impart by means of quantum mechanical principles mass to other particles that’re moving through the Higgs field.
In quantum parlance the Higgs field breaks electroweak symmetry in a way that permits particles to have nonzero mass. The reason for this is because nature wants to be at its lowest energy state, hence, the gauge bosons within a Higgs Field strive to be in their lowest energy states herewith breaking overall symmetry; in case of interaction with the Higgs field this result in nonzero mass.
This may sound strange but the mathematician Jeffrey Goldstone has proved mathematically that if you violate symmetry, a reaction will occur. Just think of the Rubik’s cube for that purpose, a Rubik cube will become unsolvable if violated.
After the official announcement of June 4, 2012, regarding the discovery of the empirical Higgs boson the hopes were high that further analyze of the Higgs boson data would reveal properties of the Higgs field that were consistent with supersymmetry and gives us a real glimpse to star wars physics. Unfortunately, the Higgs boson seems to have been the most basic version that was needed to validate the Standard Model.
Other schools of thought believe that true insights in the properties of the Higgs boson might reveal answers to other mysteries, such as Higgsogenesis, that might explain baryogenesis and the origin of dark matter; nevertheless, all of these approaches are highly theoretical and require the inventions of other mathematical operators to discovery and describe in greater detail the principles contained herewith.
Low and co say that the signature that was found to identify the Higgs boson is not unique, at least not given the amount of data that CERN has collected so far; they stress out that these signatures could easily be subscribed to a more exotic theory in which the Higgs boson exist in several different forms such as the Higgs doublet and triplet, or perhaps in mixtures. However, Low and co admit that the standard model prediction has a slightly better overall fit after all.
The higgs histery (shortly higgstery) will probably be here for longtime to come; nevertheless, one may wonder if the available data for the Higgs boson signature would be accepted within all the different interpretations of quantum mechanics? How for example would this data be interpreted in de Broglie-Bohm theory that deals with pilot waves and makes quantum mechanics sensible for the commonsense?
In other words, the Higgs Boson discovery could be validated in one interpretation of quantum mechanics but could easily be rejected by another interpretation of it. Unfortunately, the high priest of secular science (SS) prefer and preach only the none commonsense interpretations of quantum physics.
What is required is to find out what interpretations is most suitable to the commonsense and corresponds with observational facts and the knowable things of our Nature.