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Another Higgs Boson question

  1. Jul 13, 2012 #1
    I don't know much physics so it's not that easy to understand what a Higgs Boson or a Higgs field is. According to Wikipedia, a Higgs field is theorised to be the mechanism for giving elementary particles mass. For a lay-person, this makes me think that a Higgs field is something to do with gravity but from reading another thread here, they seem to be different things.

    From reading this thread

    it seems that a Higgs field has the same strength (in a vacuum) everywhere in the universe, just like the aether of 120 years ago.
    So this seems to mean that a Higgs field and gravity are sort of related. A particle has mass because of the Higgs field and particles that have mass interact with each other via a gravitational field which decreases with distance. Is that correct?

    So then, what is a Higgs Boson? If a Higgs Boson decays very quickly, does it exist naturally anywhere in the universe or only when high energy collisions occur?

    Does the Higgs field have anything to do with the expansion of the universe/ space?

    Is the strength of the Higgs field decreasing as space expands?

    I heard that 70% of the universe is dark energy, 25% is dark matter and 5% is matter. Is the Higgs field anything to do with dark energy?

    Is a Higgs field energy itself that can turn into mass?

    Is "energy" a general term that has specific forms such as a photon or the momentum of a particle with mass - or what exactly is "energy" - and when mass gets transformed into "energy", what exactly does it get transformed into?

    Thanks for any information.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2012 #2
    No, not really.

    Yes. But it's more complete to say that all types of energy gravitate, not just mass. Furthermore, not all mass comes from the Higgs mechanism. Most of the mass of a proton or neutron does is unrelated to the Higgs. So the Higgs is really not related to gravity.

    A little ripple in the Higgs field.

    Only as a product of high-energy collisions. Some cosmic rays are energetic enough to have a chance of creating Higgs bosons when they hit the Earth or another object. But as you point out these Higgs bosons decay very quickly.


    No. If the Higgs field varied with time, the masses of electrons, protons, and neutrons would vary with it, as would the strength of the weak interaction. We'd be able to detect this sort of drastic change in the properties of the building blocks of matter by looking at the light from distant stars, since the light from distant stars was emitted long ago. We see no evidence of such changes.

    Almost certainly not. Nobody actually knows anything about what dark energy might be, but there's no reason to suspect it's connected with the Higgs.


    You might check out the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

    There are many different types of energy that can be transformed into one another. The most important thing about energy is that it is conserved: that is, the sum of all the different types of energy never changes, even if energy of one type is transformed into energy of a different type. This can almost serve as a definition of energy (there are other conserved quantities besides energy, so it's not a complete definition).

    Mass is a sort of energy, but momentum is not energy--momentum is a different concept. Moving massive particles possess "kinetic energy"--the energy of motion. Photons carry energy, even though they have no mass.

    When people speak of "mass being converted into energy" there are two main processes they are talking about. One is that when a particle and its antiparticle meet, they can "annihilate", a process in which they are destroyed and photons are produced in their place. The mass energy of the particle and antiparticle are turned into the energy of the photons. The other process is a nuclear reaction. In, fission, for instance, a nucleus splits into two or more smaller nuclei, and the sum of the masses of the daughter nuclei is less than the mass of the parent nucleus. This missing mass energy has been transformed into kinetic energy (energy of motion) of the daughter nuclei, which thus fly off at great speed.
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