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Does Einstein's General Relativity need to be adjusted for the Higgs field?

  1. Sep 19, 2006 #1
    Does Einstein's General Relativity need to be adjusted for the Higgs field?

    Since the Higgs field gives most particles mass, and permeates all space, then GR needs the higgs field to be a theory of space?

    So where GR is highly curved, the higgs field is also curved? And does a highly curved higgs field affect the way particles acquire mass? For that matter, a curved spacetime would also curve electricmagnetic field?
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  3. Sep 19, 2006 #2


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    Others may know more than I, but I am not aware of anybody theorizing on this precise issue. Higgs of course has not been seen or ruled out by experiment, but we should have at least preliminary news on that within a year, from Fermilab perhaps or if not, then from LHC.

    Note that most baryonic mass comes, not from Higgs, but from the interaction energy of the gluon fields in the proton ans neutron (I believe the figure is about 95%). Higgs is (thought to be) responsible for the masses of the quarks, but those are just a minor component of total baryonic mass. And of course no-one really knows what the source of non-baryonic mass (aka dark matter) is.

    Nevertheless, your question is a good one, and people hoping to couple matter to their quantum theories of gravity would do well to consider the issue.
  4. Sep 19, 2006 #3
    Fields don't really get curved in the sense that spacetime is curved. Currently, there is no satisfactory/universally agreed way to consider quantum fields (i.e. the Higgs field, Dirac field etc.) on a fully independent (i.e. dynamic) background spacetime. People have done things like considered quantum fields on flat spacetimes + a little non-flat bit, and some are considering "just" a fully quantized independent background spacetime, and some are doing things in between.

    But the short answer is, as far as I know, there is no satisfactory model that combines QM + GR so those questions will be difficult to answer.
  5. Sep 19, 2006 #4


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    As far as I know, GR would predict that the Higgs field coupled to gravity through its stress-energy tensor, the same as any other field. (This is not an area where I know as much as I'd like, but I don't see any reason it shoould be different for the Higgs than for any other field, at least according to classical GR.)

    But we don't know enough about the Higgs field to write down a stress-energy tensor for it.
  6. May 24, 2007 #5
    I would like bringing back this thread.

    First off, could someone explain what the Higgs field idea explains what general relativity does not?

    ( I believe it is why and how matter gets mass assigned, if that is so then I do not understand why gets so little mentioning in the GR books ( can not find it Carroll), since that appears to be pretty central for a theory of gravity.)
  7. May 27, 2007 #6
    Another question: Higgs field comes into play when things are accelerated, it explains the resistance felt when acceleration takes place, acceleration caused by non- gravitational forces. right or not?

  8. May 27, 2007 #7
    No. The scalar Higgs field is central to the standard model of particle physics, in its currently accepted minimal version. This extremely succesful theory relies heavily on the gauge principle, which very basically tells that not only the absolute phase of the wavefunction is not observable, but the phase can be shifted with a space-time dependent function, same shift for everybody, leading to no observable result. It is very neat as a principle and very efficient to predict the interaction terms in the lagrangian. But it requires all fields to be massless. The postulated Higgs field allows fundamental fields to get a massive-like term in the lagragian, the mass being simply proportional to the strength of interaction with the Higgs field.

    GR does not address any other interaction than gravity. Electromagnetism and nuclear forces are all hidden in the energy-momentum tensor, particle content of the universe.

    GR and Higgs field are two a priori very remotely connected physical theories, if at all. It might very well be that the Higgs is not fundamental, but a bound state, or condensate of something else. As SA mentionned, the concept of mass may be fundamental for both of them, but most of the mass of the universe we do not understand anyway (even ordinary mass around us, stored in the glue field, we don't know how to calculate). Linking Higgs and GR would require enormous advances of our understanding of Nature.
  9. May 27, 2007 #8
    great post, humanino! many thanks
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