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Do higgs bosons exist outside Switzerland?

  1. May 7, 2014 #1
    What i mean is: are there currently Higgs Bosons in the universe or the only place where they exist now is if man (or some other technological being) recreates special conditions like in a particle accelerator?

    Another related question of mine is: some particles "receive" their mass from the interaction with the Higgs Field, right? Is this something that happened once and for all or is this mechanism ongoing? In other words, if we could switch off the Higgs Field, would particles "lose" their masses or is mass aquired by particles once and forever?
    Thank you. W.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    The Higgs, like any fundamental particle, does not depend on humans for their existence - no.
    (Note: we don't do philosophy here so tread carefully.)

    The Higgs mechanism is ongoing - without the field, everything would be massless - though, it is unclear how to do that. It is likely that the Higgs field is fundamental to having things like matter and space and so on.

    Caution: this is a pretty simplistic description of what the Higgs field etc does, try not to extrapolate far.
  4. May 7, 2014 #3


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    Although the existence of the Higgs field is not dependent on man, in order to have Higgs bosons there must be processes with high enough energy to create them (astrophysical or made by an intelligent being trying to figure out how Nature works). This is due to the very short lifetime of the Higgs boson and not very different from the tau or any other short-lived heavy particle. After all, most of the things we see are typically from the first (and sometimes second) generation of fermions.

    A more precise statement about the Higgs field is that without its vacuum expectation value, things would be massless (and if the value changed the masses would too). Now chances are that the Higgs vacuum is metastable and could possible tunnel to a lower energy state. This would severely change the physics and probably mean the end of our Universe as we know it.
  5. May 7, 2014 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    This should help:
    ... directly to post #1.

    Orodruin brings up some intreguing points:

    Metastability of Higgs Vaccuum example:
    http://arxiv-web3.library.cornell.edu/abs/1310.5361 (by reference)
    ... however, this is highly speculative and tentative.
    There are also papers which put the Higgs mass in the unstable regeon.
    i.e. http://arxiv.org/abs/1404.4709

    Also discussed on PF before:
  6. May 7, 2014 #5
    Thank you for your replies.
    I am going to read what Simon suggests, seems deeply interesting.
    I would like to add that Orodruin probably better got what is my doubt.
    I try to explain further. Let's say we are the only intelligence in the world. If it weren't for us, there wouldnt be any single atom of Flerovium around: we were the ones who produced it and outside whatever laboratory (Dubna?) produced it, there are no other atoms of it in the whole universe because nature doesn't have the right conditions to produce it.
    Muons, on the other hand, are not very common but we can find them as naturally occurring in cosmic rays.
    I was wondering if the same is true for the Higgs Boson: if we are the only smart guys around and we don't produce it, are there any places in the universe where we could find it as a naturally occuring particle or not?
    Now i go reading... maybe the answer is there. Thx! W.
  7. May 7, 2014 #6


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    Cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere occur at higher energies than in terrestrial colliders (around 10^18 ev if I'm not mistaken). So, there are plenty of Higgs bosons being created in the atmosphere all the time.
  8. May 7, 2014 #7


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    The Earth is constantly being bombarded with cosmic rays, and the highest energy cosmic rays have energies as high as 10^20 eV. When these collide with atoms in the atmosphere, the collisions are much higher energy than the LHC, even in the CM frame. So whatever is made in the LHC is also made in cosmic ray collisions, albeit at a much lower rate.
  9. May 7, 2014 #8

    Simon Bridge

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    No that's pretty much what I got from post #1.

    We don't expect Fluovium to be found in Nature because it is so unstable and the conditions needed to create it are very unusual.

    Muons are pretty common - detectors can usually find cosmic ray muons at a rate of a few a minute iirc. The actual flux is about 1 muon per square centimeter per second.
    Though short-lived in the usual run of things, they have much longer half-lives than Fluovium and the conditions needed to make them are very common.

    The Higgs field is ubiquitous - just need high-enough energy collisions to get the particle to pop up. As the others point out, such energies are very easy to find in nature. Thus we would expect that the Higgs boson appears naturally outside the lab.

    That should answer your question pretty completely.
  10. May 7, 2014 #9


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    Well, that being said, a Higgs boson is probably never going to be seen outside of colliders. Considering its lifetime of about 10^-22 s (9 orders of magnitude shorter than that of the tau) and all of the other stuff produced in the same type of collisions, you need very good equipment to detect its decay products.
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