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Help me understand higgs boson

  1. Feb 17, 2010 #1
    i know no one has ever seen them before there just a theory but my question is what are they? do they make up quarks to give everything mass or what im kinds confused.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2010 #2
    wikipedia and google
  4. Feb 17, 2010 #3
    i tryed to wiki it it didnt answer my question of what there made of and stuff i want to know what they go into. dont they go into quarks and thats what gives them mass or what?
  5. Feb 19, 2010 #4


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    The Higgs boson is just another particle that may or may not exist. It has couplings to the quarks, leptons (possibly neutrinos, but we don't know for sure) and the W and Z gauge bosons. To everything that it touches, it gives mass. I would suggest looking up "Higgs Mechanism" to get an understanding of that, both here and on the web. I don't know how much quantum mechanics you know, so I can't be more specific than that.

    It also touches massless things, but indirectly. For example: a Higgs boson can decay to two photons. What it REALLY does is that it decays to a quark-antiquark pair (for example), and the quarks annihilate into two photons, but this happens so quickly that we only see it as a higgs ---> 2 photon event. In fact, if the Higgs exists and has the mass many people think it has, this is the best chance we have of seeing it (detectors at the LHC are set to look for two photons!).

    That's obviously a bit oversimplistic, but I hope it helps getting you started!
  6. Feb 19, 2010 #5


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    To answer your other question, the Higgs boson isn't made of anything. It's a fundamental particle (in the simplest setups.)
  7. Feb 19, 2010 #6


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    A while ago I wrote a post that tried to provide a simplified version of the math behind the Higgs field. I'm not sure if it would be of any use to you, but if you want to read it:

    Personally, I think it's a little misleading to say that the Higgs boson "gives" other particles mass. Particle physicists say that because, way back in the old days, we had a theory called the Standard Model that very elegantly described all the known particles and forces (except gravity), with just one problem: the theory predicted that none of these particles would have any mass. Peter Higgs was the one (well, not the only one, but apparently the most famous one) who figured out how to modify the theory so that its particles could have mass, and the way he did so was by introducing a new particle, which is what we now call the Higgs boson. That's the only sense in which the Higgs boson gives other particles mass: you start with a theory that describes massless particles, add in some math for the Higgs boson, and you wind up with a theory that allows massive particles. But it's not true that real particles in the universe physically derive their mass from the Higgs boson. It's just that the Higgs boson needs to be there for our theory to be consistent.

    The Standard Model is still around, by the way, and it still describes all the known particles and forces (except gravity) exceedingly well, as long as the Higgs boson is included. So if the Higgs boson is discovered, physicists will have confirmed that the Standard Model is basically correct. But if we can rule out the existence of the Higgs boson, then clearly the theory is wrong. Either someone needs to find a different way to patch it up to include masses for the other particles, or we'll need to start from scratch and develop a brand new theory, which would keep a lot of people busy for a very long time :wink:
  8. Feb 20, 2010 #7


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    To be technically correct, we should say that the "Higgs Field" gives particles their masses. The particle we call the "Higgs Boson" is only one part of that field, and it's a different part of the field than the part that gives mass; rather it's a part of the field that is required for consistency reasons, as you said. Thanks for the post!
  9. Feb 21, 2010 #8
    In Wilczek's book "The lightness of being" he is highly dismissive of the Higgs Boson and it having any significant value to theory.
  10. Feb 21, 2010 #9
    I would rather say that the Higgs boson is the elementary particle (that creates a lot of problem in the SM such as triviality, naturalness, etc...) and the Higgs mechamisn is the possibility of having a scalar condensate that spontaneously breaks SU(2)*U(1) -> U(1). In this sense, a top quark condensate is a kind of Higgs mechanism, but free of elementary scalar boson (which would be better !!)
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