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A couple of questions about Higgs Boson

  1. Jul 4, 2012 #1
    Hi all, I have a couple of noob questions regarding the Higgs Boson (HB) and it's recent "discovery"

    1. if the HB is so heavy (I understood it is heavier than a proton) and permeates the universe, why is it so difficult to detect it or produce it ?

    2. Why do we have to collide protons in order to "produce" a HB ? I understood it was flowing throught the universe, not part of existing matter ... so how can it be uncovered by breaking apart existing matter ???

    Many thanks for your help,

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2012 #2


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    That's why. Because it's so heavy, it takes a high energy collision to produce it. It's difficult to detect because (a) it's very short-lived, and (b) the things it decays into can be easily produced in other ways, so seeing them is no guarantee they came from a Higgs.

    The Higgs field permeates the universe. The Higgs boson is an excitation of that field, which is what CERN thinks it's found. The Higgs field manifests its existence through the nonzero masses of the elementary particles, but the validation of the theory requires we must also produce the Higgs boson and measure its properties.
  4. Jul 4, 2012 #3
    I'd just like to add to the Bill_K's answer, that generally the heavier the particle is, the faster it decays. It's not strictly linear dependance and there are some exceptions when particle is heavy but decays slowly (neutron) or doesn't decay at all (proton) because they have nothing (or almost nothing) to decay into. But you expect that heavy particle will decay faster, unless you find some reason to the contrary.
  5. Jul 4, 2012 #4
    If the Higgs field permeates all of space and gives mass to all particles...why doesn't it give mass to photons? What makes them 'immune' to the Higgs field?
  6. Jul 4, 2012 #5


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    It gives mass to all particles it couples to. If you work out the electroweak symmetry breaking mechanism, one particle has to stay massless, as one U(1) symmetry has to remain.
    Gluons are massless, too, by the way.
  7. Jul 5, 2012 #6
    Thanks for clearing that up ' its the field that fills space..' so many even quite scientific articles have said its the Higgs bosons that fill space, and that it creates an effect like moving through treacle etc - suely its only accelaration that is affected?
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
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