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Does Higgs-particle explain origin of inertia?

  1. Jul 4, 2012 #1
    We know that the Higgs-particle gives an explanation as to why there is mass in the universe. But mass has another property/ability. It has the ability to resist change in its state of motion. Is this ability - inertia - explained by the discovery of the Higgs-particle? Does Higgs-particle explain origin of inertia? Does the standard model explain it?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2012 #2


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    No Johann, I'm afraid that is incorrect. The Higgs particle only relates to the rest mass of certain elementary particles, not mass in general. Composite particles like the proton for example, would still have mass even if the Higgs did not exist.

    Furthermore, even for those particles, the Higgs does not explain why they have mass. It only permits them to. I hope you see the difference! Electrons, muons, quarks couple to the Higgs field, and the strength of their coupling determines their mass. But no one understands why the coupling exists, or why the various masses have the particular values they do. Some future theory will have to answer these questions.
  4. Jul 4, 2012 #3
    Are you, or anyone else, able to elaborate slightly on this please? Which elementary particles does the Higgs give (or does not give) mass? I had it in my head that everything that had mass was a result of coupling with the field.

    Thanks for your time.
  5. Jul 4, 2012 #4


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    1. The fundamental fermions, that is, leptons (electron, muon, tau, and the neutrinos) and quarks.
    2. The gauge bosons (exchange bosons) that have mass, that is, the W+, W- and Z0. Gluons and photons are massless.
  6. Jul 4, 2012 #5
    Thanks, that's just the answer I was looking for as there's so much information around it's hard to find it simple and condensed like that.

    As a final question then, as Bill_K mentioned a proton would have mass without the Higgs mechanism. As a proton is made of 3 quarks, what is the 'Higgsless' mass attributed to?

    EDIT: Hmm, after checking the standard model picture... You've just described everything except gluons and photons. I guess my second question is more pertinent, isn't everything made up of those elementary particles that the Higgs gives mass?
  7. Jul 4, 2012 #6
    3. Higgs boson
  8. Jul 4, 2012 #7


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    Kinetic and potential energy between the quarks and gluons make up most of the proton's mass. In fact the rest mass of the gluons [Sorry: quarks!] comprises only about 5 percent.

    The Higgs field gives mass to particles that participate in the weak interaction. Jtbell listed the ones that occur in the standard model: all but the photon, gluon and graviton. But there are many other particles that have been hypothesized which lie outside the standard model, and if they have mass it would not be governed by the Higgs field. Dark matter particles possibly fall into this category. Also, neutrinos are suspected to have something called Majorana mass, and this would be independent of the Higgs field as well.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  9. Jul 4, 2012 #8
    My suspicions re the non-higgs mass were correct, fairly encouraging! The help is appreciated, thanks!
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