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I Basic Higgs field question

  1. Mar 18, 2016 #1
    I am trying to understand the Higgs field. I understand that mass and charge are measurable characteristics of particles. I have read that the concept of the Higgs field was to explain how particles have mass. The Higgs field supposedly "imparts" mass to particles which would not have mass if the Higgs field was not present.

    Does this imply that charge is "imparted" to particles by the electromagnetic field? (I have not read anything that indicates such a thing.). If that is not how a particle has charge, and it is assumed that particles have charge intrinsically, why can we not assume that particles likewise have mass intrinsically?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    No. Charge and mass are completely different things.
    Giving particles a charge is easy (and even unavoidable) in quantum field theory, while "just giving mass" for some particles breaks very fundamental parts of the theory. I don't see how to explain that in more detail without going too much into quantum field theory.
  4. Mar 18, 2016 #3


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    As already said, giving charge is easy because it doesn't violate any symmetry...
    Fermion masses are prohibited by chiral symmetry and Vector Boson masses are forbidden by gauge invariance.
    In other words, put masses by hand and you won't have the standard model symmetry anymore.
  5. Mar 27, 2016 #4
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