What is Higgs mechanism: Definition and 45 Discussions

In the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs mechanism is essential to explain the generation mechanism of the property "mass" for gauge bosons. Without the Higgs mechanism, all bosons (one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions) would be considered massless, but measurements show that the W+, W−, and Z0 bosons actually have relatively large masses of around 80 GeV/c2. The Higgs field resolves this conundrum. The simplest description of the mechanism adds a quantum field (the Higgs field) that permeates all space to the Standard Model. Below some extremely high temperature, the field causes spontaneous symmetry breaking during interactions. The breaking of symmetry triggers the Higgs mechanism, causing the bosons it interacts with to have mass. In the Standard Model, the phrase "Higgs mechanism" refers specifically to the generation of masses for the W±, and Z weak gauge bosons through electroweak symmetry breaking. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN announced results consistent with the Higgs particle on 14 March 2013, making it extremely likely that the field, or one like it, exists, and explaining how the Higgs mechanism takes place in nature.
The mechanism was proposed in 1962 by Philip Warren Anderson, following work in the late 1950s on symmetry breaking in superconductivity and a 1960 paper by Yoichiro Nambu that discussed its application within particle physics.
A theory able to finally explain mass generation without "breaking" gauge theory was published almost simultaneously by three independent groups in 1964: by Robert Brout and François Englert; by Peter Higgs; and by Gerald Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and Tom Kibble. The Higgs mechanism is therefore also called the Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism, or Englert–Brout–Higgs–Guralnik–Hagen–Kibble mechanism, Anderson–Higgs mechanism, Anderson–Higgs–Kibble mechanism, Higgs–Kibble mechanism by Abdus Salam and ABEGHHK'tH mechanism (for Anderson, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen, Higgs, Kibble, and 't Hooft) by Peter Higgs. The Higgs mechanism in electrodynamics was also discovered independently by Eberly and Reiss in reverse
as the "gauge" Dirac field mass gain due to the artificially displaced electromagnetic field as a Higgs field.On 8 October 2013, following the discovery at CERN's Large Hadron Collider of a new particle that appeared to be the long-sought Higgs boson predicted by the theory, it was announced that Peter Higgs and François Englert had been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

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  1. Sagittarius A-Star

    I Mass of Electron & Flipping Frequency: Leonard Susskind Explains

    According to Leonard Susskind, i.e. the electron has periodically interactions with the Higgs field condensate, that change the electron alternately to be right-handed an left-handed. At 44:20 in the video he says, that, according to the Dirac theory, the mass of the electron is proportional to...
  2. P

    A Why is the Higgs mechanism needed?

    Here's my current understanding of mass terms. For scalar fields, a mass term flows under RG to larger values in the IR. This implies having mass values in the theory is unnatural because it has to be fine tuned at the UV level to get the correct observed mass at low energy (the term I think...
  3. Tertius

    A Higgs field was zero right after Big Bang, could it return to zero?

    Quote from cern: "Just after the big bang, the Higgs field was zero, but as the universe cooled and the temperature fell below a critical value, the field grew spontaneously so that any particle interacting with it acquired a mass." Can it go back to zero? If anyone has a comment either way...
  4. P

    I Is the Higgs field in its present form phlogiston-like?

    Phlogiston lead to the discovery of oxygen but was later on proven to be imaginary. Can the same be said of the quite strange Higgs field and Higgs mechanism following from the strange Mexican hat potential? Is that potential just imaginary? It lead to the discovery of the eponimous particle...
  5. tomdodd4598

    I Form of the Standard Model: Higgs-Fermion Yukawa Coupling

    Hey there, I was looking at the Higgs sector of the standard model, particularly its coupling to the fermions: ##\mathscr{L}_{ yukawa }=-\sum _{ a,b=1 }^{ 3 }{ \left( { Y }_{ ab }^{ u }{ \bar { Q } }_{ a }{ \hat { \varepsilon } }_{ 2 }{ H }^{ \dagger }{ u }_{ b }+{ Y }_{ ab }^{ d }{ \bar { Q }...
  6. Spinnor

    I Masses of Fermions, string theory, Higgs mechanism

    Take the first family of fundamental fermions, u, d, e-, and ν. The u and d are more massive than the e- and the e- is more massive than the ν. The u and d interact via 4 forces, the e- interacts via 3 forces, and the ν interacts via 2 forces. The fermions that interact via the most forces are...
  7. O

    A Deriving the Unitary Gauge of the Higgs Mechanism

    Dear @ll, the central point (for the unitary gauge) in the higgs-mechanism is the equality Φ = (v + η + iξ) = (v + η)ei(ξ/v) (see for example Halzen, Martin: Quarks and Leptons, eq. 14.56) Φ = complex scalar Field v = vacuum that breaks the symmetry spontaneously η,ξ = shifted...
  8. C

    I How good is this PBS video at explaining weak hyper-charge?

    Specifically this one: I've been asking several question's about the weak force to my professors, and both on here and PhysicsSE and it seems impossible to get a consistent answer as to what weak hypercharge, weak isospin actually are with any degree of physical-ity. So I suppose this thread...
  9. B

    B Quark confinement and the Higgs mechanism

    There is something that perflexed me. First here are the references to my questions: http://www.latticeguy.net/mypubs/pub017.pdf http://bose.res.in/~bossar/chandu.pdf What I'd like to know is the following: Without superstrings. Quark confinement and asymptotic freedom says as you pull the...
  10. B

    B Thermal Dependence of the Higgs Mechanism

    I'm familiar with the Higgs mechanism.. but what perplexed me so much is the temperature dependence. I know about superconductivity or magnetic-temperature analogy.. or generally I understand what's written in wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_mechanism "Below some extremely high...
  11. V

    Rewriting neutral gauge bosons (EW) for vacuum with Y=-1

    Homework Statement So, my textbook proposes a to check what will change in mass and mass eigenvectors of Z and photon in terms of ##W_{3}## and ##B_{\mu}## fields in Higgs mechanism for EW if we choose a vacuum hypercharge to be -1 and compare results to SM (where we know that photon is...
  12. C

    Higgs Mechanism and Lorentz transformation of currents

    Homework Statement Consider the Higgs mechanism lagrangian, $$\mathcal L = (D_{\mu} \phi)^* (D^{\mu} \phi) -\mu^2 (\phi^* \phi) - \lambda (\phi^* \phi)^2 - \frac{1}{4}F_{\mu \nu}F^{\mu \nu},$$ with ##F_{\mu \nu} = \partial_{\mu} A_{\nu} - \partial_{\nu} A_{\mu}## and ##D_{\mu} = \partial_{\mu}...
  13. E

    Why must the Higgs' gauge symmetry be broken?

    The part I understand: I understand that the spontaneous symmetry breaking of the Higgs produces the 'Mexican hat' potential, with two non-zero stable equilibria. I understand that as the Higgs is a complex field, there exists a phase component of the field. Under gauge transformations of...
  14. K

    Is the Higgs mechanism a gauge transformation or not?

    I asked this question to PhysicsStackExchange too but to no avail so far. I'm trying to understand the way that the Higgs Mechanism is applied in the context of a U(1) symmetry breaking scenario, meaning that I have a Higgs complex field \phi=e^{i\xi}\frac{\left(\rho+v\right)}{\sqrt{2}} and...
  15. N

    Charge of the W bosons in the Higgs Mechanism

    I am confused about how the gauge boson W+ and W- get their charge under spontaneous symmetry breaking in the Higgs mechanism. Here's what I have so far: The covariant derivative for a SU(2)⊗U(1) is DμΦ = (∂μ + igWμiσi/2 + ig'Bμ)Φ where g and g' are coupling constants. SU(2) is associated...
  16. T

    Higgs Mechanism and Gravity

    I understand that Higgs mechanism “gives” mass to particles in QM sense. My first question is, why it also gives mass in GR sense, bending space-time? Of course, I don’t expect an answer now as it is definitely a TOE/Quantum gravity territory. However, let me rephrase my question in a narrower...
  17. agnishom

    Does the Higgs mechanism explain the equivalence of gravitiational and

    I am not well versed in the idea of Higgs mechanism. However, I was wondering if it does explain the problem of equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass. Also, what is the modern accepted definition of mass?
  18. J

    Why was confirming Higgs mechanism worth it?

    I'm just looking for a layman's explanation of why the efforts to confirm Higgs was truly necessary and worth the expense. The counter-argument is that theoretical physics seem to be going along just fine assuming something like the Higgs mechanism existed without validating it. Also, nothing...
  19. H

    Does the higgs mechanism explain the observed masses of sub particles?

    I was wondering if there are any theories that show how much mass the higgs field gives to each particle and why? I am specifically wondering about the observed masses for each particles rest mass. Does the higgs mechanism give mass in quanta, and if so is there a reason for the amounts?
  20. J

    Higgs mechanism and relativity

    Hi all, Having looked into the Higgs mechanism a bit (I am a physics undergrad, so my understanding is pretty basic if even correct), I have come up with a question. I understand that the way that the Higgs field gives mass to the W and Z bosons is different to the way that it gives leptons...
  21. F

    Higgs Mechanism and Black Holes

    If seems to me that the conditions in the early universe which led to the activation of the Higgs field might be found inside a black hole, but in reverse. This might explain the mystery of infinite density inside a black hole, uniting Gen Rel and QM. Might a black hole then be a baby universe...
  22. F

    Higgs Mechanism, how does it work?

    I'm not sure this thread belongs in this forum since we have now discovered a Higgs like boson. But I'm trying to get a better understanding of how the Higgs mechanism works. Let me share what I think I know, and you tell me how far off I am. Particles gain mass as they travel through the...
  23. L

    Higgs mechanism and vacuum instability

    Does the shape of the Higgs potential change if the energy of the vacuum changes? According to Wikipedia, If a more stable vacuum state were able to arise, then existing particles and forces would no longer arise as they presently do. Different particles or forces would arise from (and be...
  24. P

    Explanation of quadratic divergence in higgs mechanism

    Hi can anyone explain what a quadratic divergence is? and if so how it effects the mass of the scalar field i.e why m^2 = m^2_{0} + \delta m^2, why are these things squared? Also how would this divergence affect the standard model as a natural concept, because from reading books it would...
  25. ShayanJ

    Understanding Higgs Mechanism & Its Impact on Particle Mass

    I want to gain an understanding of Higgs mechanism I know I can't understand it precisely without knowing enough group theory,representation theory and etc. but I just want to have sth like a chronologically ordered list of what happens that separates EM and weak interactions and gives...
  26. A

    What is q (the charge) in higgs mechanism?

    what is "q" (the charge) in higgs mechanism? hi, does anybody know what kind of charge the "q" stand for in the higgs mechanism? I mean the mechanism between the weak force mediators: W & Z, and the higgs boson, which leads to them acquiring mass. I've learned about it from the...
  27. N

    New Theory: from Superfluids to Higgs mechanism

    Theorem unifies superfluids and other weird materials http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/08/theorem-unifies-superfluids-and-other-weird-materials/ Nambu Goldstone bosons...of the Higgs Mechanism!..and phonons...from Cosmology to materials design. “Surprisingly, the implications of...
  28. A

    How does the Higgs mechanism explain the origin of mass in particles?

    Hi, As I understand, please correct me if I'm wrong, when a subatomic particle interacts with the Higgs field it generates mass due to the higgs mechanism. Does this have anything to do with with e = mc2? (I'm not too privy to particle physics or relativity.) Suppose an electron and a...
  29. TrickyDicky

    Is the Higgs mechanism really a spontaneous symmetry breaking?

    The Higgs mechanism is often explained (both here at PF and in many physics sites including wikipedia) as an example of spontaneous symmetry breaking, but the Nobel winner physicist 't Hooft says in his "for laymen" book about particle physics, "In search of the ultimate building blocks", that...
  30. P

    The Higgs mechanism and the Beginning of the Universe

    The Higgs mechanism and the Beginning of the Universe Now that the excitement about the discovery of the Higgs particle has made the Higgs mechanism justly famous, could someone please clarify for me the implications of incorporating this component of the Standard Model of Particle Physics...
  31. B

    QED vs Higgs: Mass of Electrons and More

    I understand that an electron gets its mass by self-interaction of its fields which is explained by QED, but on the other hand there is the higgs mechanism which gives mass to all the fundamental particles. Does the electron have two types of mass one which is due to the QED mechanism and the...
  32. E

    Mass, Gravity and the Higgs Mechanism

    I am led to believe that while the Higgs Mechanism is now almost certainly the explanation for mass, it gives no insight whatsoever into gravity. I really really hope that I am incorrect. There's got to be some speculation out there. What do the boson and the field have to do with gravity...
  33. B

    How can Higgs mechanism and gravitation coexist?

    After having read a number of articles about the potential discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN, I am wondering how the "mass effect" generation by the Higgs mechanism can coexist with gravitation as gravitation has been since Newton tightly coupled with the concept of mass. I develop below...
  34. A

    A puzzle about the higgs mechanism

    I might misunderstand the higgs mechanism. And I have a puzzle. Consider an electron in an accelerater. It is massive at low energy and its speed is something lower than the speed of light. However when it is accelerated to the electroweak scale, su(2) becomes unbroken and the electron turns...
  35. L

    Exponential expansion and Higgs mechanism

    Our universe apparently has a positive cosmological constant so it will look more and more like de Sitter spacetime, expanding at at exponentially increasing rate. So eventually it seems that subatomic spacetime would be affected by this. Eventually even something a Planck distance away would...
  36. E

    Wiki Quote-2 - Higgs Mechanism

    "Although the evidence for the Higgs mechanism is overwhelming," As far as I know there is no evidence for the Higgs mechanism. The only potential evidence is the Higgs particle which has not been found! Is this also SM propaganda?
  37. E

    Wiki Quote 1 - Higgs Mechanism?

    "The Higgs mechanism in the standard model successfully predicts the mass of the W±, and Z weak gauge bosons," How does the higgs mechanism predict the masses of the W & Z? The Higgs has no specific coupling value to any particle and it is the coupling value that gives the mass value Is...
  38. K

    Understanding the Higgs Mechanism: W & Z Boson Mass & Particle Mass

    I need help understanding the Higgs mechanism: what is the Higgs condensate, what is the Higgs boson, why do only the W and Z bosons have mass, and how exactly do particles receive mass? thanks guys!
  39. F

    Higgs mechanism and Angular momentum

    There is an aspect of the Higgs mechanism I am troubled about. This applies to any theory with Higgs, but for sake of definiteness I will restrict the discussion to the Standard Model. The (unbroken) theory starts with a complex Higgs doublet, which corresponds to four degrees of freedom...
  40. N

    Higgs mechanism and gauge theory

    I'm an undergraduate in physics, I'm on my 2nd year. I have to write this assignment about the Higgs particle and gauge theory. There are quite some things that are unclear to me however. Since I'm only on my second year I don't know a lot of deep math like group theory, just basic stuff. I know...
  41. A

    Could it be that Higgs's boson does not exist, but Higgs mechanism does?

    Non-Higgs boson process of the generating of elementary particle masses in QFT As is known in the experiments on LEP and Bevatron, Higgs's bosons were not discovered. It is supposed that an energy amount bigger than 160 GeV is here needed. But some scientists doubt the detection of Higgs in...
  42. B

    Higgs Mechanism: Does it Give Mass to All Particles?

    Hi there Lately, I have been irritated by some general articles about the Higgs Mechanism in newspapers. Those articles suggest that it gives mass to all particles (vector bosons + all fermions). However, if I read a textbook I can only extract from the context that it gives mass only to the...
  43. T

    The Irony of the Higgs Mechanism: Giving Mass to the Massless?

    Forgive if I'm being sarcastic, but I just read on the Higgs mechanism, giving mass to the fermions and bosons. But at the same time, Higgs itself has mass? Isn't that abit irony?
  44. T

    Understanding the Higgs Mechanism

    Let me take an example. Suppose we have a Lagrangian, of a scalar field coupled to itself and a massless gauge boson field. Next, we expand the Lagrangian about the vacuum expectation value of the scalar field, and it turns out that, in the end, the gauge boson is massive. My question is...
  45. T

    Are There Alternatives to the Higgs Mechanism for Explaining Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking?

    Are there any other mechanisms apart from Higgs mechanism that explains the spontaneous symmetry breaking making photon massless and W and Z bosons massive? Do you really believe in the Higgs mechanism?