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Higgs boson and graviton relationship?

  1. May 11, 2012 #1
    The force of gravity without mass is 0. Wouldn't this imply that gravitons and higgs bosons come in pairs? Is there any evidence of gravitons and higgs bosons existing only in pairs?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2012 #2
    1) The Higgs has nothing to do with gravity.

    2) Newton's law of universal gravitation is non-relativistic. If you want to talk about gravitons, you need to look at GR, where all mass, energy, momentum (really, anything that contributes to the stress-energy tensor) source gravity.

    3) What makes you think anything you've said has anything to do with pairs of particles?
  4. Jul 8, 2012 #3
    Higgs and gravitons are two completely different particles. One would however, expect them to be related in the same way the Z boson is related to a photon. e.g. At high enough energy, you cannot tell the difference. This would also imply that Higgs bosons probably effect the curvature of space as well. However, since gravitons are still completely theoritical, and there isn't really a good theory that describes everything, I would say trying to establish a symmetry between these two particles is way too premature...
  5. Jul 8, 2012 #4

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    None of that is true.
  6. Jul 8, 2012 #5
    Such an exact reply. You might want to next time state what you think is incorrect. As I take it when you say "None of that is true", you are saying everything in all the above posts are false.

    So I can take you believe:


    Force of gravity without mass is not 0.


    Higgs and gravitons are the same particle.

    Gravitons are not completely theoritical.

    There is a good theory that describes everything.

    It is not premature to try establishing a symmetry between the two.

    - - - -

    In regards to my post, I think I qualified my own speculations significantly, to say there is nothing false about it. e.g. "One would expect, ..." "This would imply ...". I would never dream of saying that a Higgs particle causes curvature of space, not at least without some very solid calculations and experimental verifications. But is perfectly valid to say one would expect a relationship between gravitons and the Higgs, and if there is one it would imply that a Higgs particle could curve space. But then again, general relativity already predicts that as well, as general relativity predicts anything with mass curves space. So I guess I'm not saying much when I imply that of the Higgs... So on retrospect, I don't think that particular comment added anything of significance to the conversation.

    That is not to say there isn't room for debate. For example, my statement that there is no good theory that describes everything, is more of a judgement call, based subjectively on what one considers a "good" theory. Some people might consider for example "Super String" a good theory. I personally don't, because there are no solid predictions and no experimental evidence to support the theory. But that is opinion, not fact.
  7. Jul 8, 2012 #6


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    Really? There's no reason NOT to say this. The Higgs is no different than a standard scalar field within the context of classical GR. So of course it's going to be a source for gravitation. You don't really even need to get into a theory of quantum gravity for that. Of course, nobody has verified this and probably never will verify it, but theoretically this is the default case by a very large margin.
  8. Jul 9, 2012 #7
    Of course there is a reason not to say it. There is no evidence that GR applies at the quantum level. Being a source of gravition is not neccessarily same as saying curved space at a quantum level. We also cannot say what does contribute to gravity. We know form observations, that total mass contributes, but we cannot say if for example, virtual particles contribute at all. In fact, we can almost certainly say it would not make sense to talk about GR at the quantum level. Just like it does not make sense to apply Lorentz transformations (special relativity) at the quantum level. For special relativity you need to apply the Dirac equation at the quantum level. Until we find and prove the validness of the logical equivalent of the Dirac equation for general relativity, and extrapulation down to the quantum level anything is at best speculation... For all I know something completely different happens at the quantum level to space, that just extrapulates on a large scale to the bending of space.

    As an example, lets look at a very simple model (one so simple I know it doesn't work). Lets say space is tiled like one of the hexegon grids used in board games. Lets say particles are like playing peices that consists of a group of tiles, each of which is the exact same shape as the tiles of the board. Now we make a simple rule, that we cannot place two tiles ontop of eachother. So if I add an electron to the board, I have to pick-up and remove the tiles where the electron is at. However, we also make the second rule that we cannot perminently remove tiles from the board. So I then have push other tiles out of place to put back down the original tiles. All the while, I have to maintain the grid pattern, so I constantly keep pushing the tiles back into a grid pattern wherever I can. Eventually, over a large enough area I manage to get everything back close enough to the original grid pattern, it looks the same as when I started. But someone carefully examining the board would notice there is a slight rise, in the board into verticle caused be the peices pushing on each others edges. So I now have a curvature to my space on a large level, even though my particle itself did not curve space. All of it's tiles are perfectly flat, and in the same shape as the rest of the tiles. In fact anywhere I go on the board, locally I cannot see a curvature. It is only when I consider the combined effects of all the tiles, is there a curvature of space.

    While as I said, the above model is overly simplistic, and will not actually work, it gives you an idea of how a unified theory could well have no curvature space by fundamental particles, such as the Higgs, but still give rise to a curvature at the macro level.

    Ultimately, it is doubtful one could ever measure if space is curved by a particle such as a Higgs, but one could eventually develope a model that gives a reasonable description of what happens to space at that level, and gives solid predictions as to what happens at and observable level as a consequence beyond what you expect from GR.

    It is interesting to take a step back and ask how we even know what we do know. For example, how do we know it is mass that causes the curvature of space and not say for example baron number? Surely for any object large enough to measure the baron number will be directly proportional to it's rest mass. We can say that an electron is effected by gravity, but then so is light. But does that mean it contributes to the curvature of space? Would such a model give a dramitically different description of how an electron acted within a gravitational field? Really, I've never research this so, I would have a hard time really arguing against a baron number hypothesis. I would only point to the periodic table and point out the mass of elements does not exactly scale with baron number. So it would at least in theory be possible to test such a hypothesis. I do not know however, if anyone has ever done so. I seem to remember vaguely reading about a model that actually predicted a baron number scaling of curvature of space. So this is not wild conjecture, it just presenting a possibility someone else has examined.

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
  9. Jul 9, 2012 #8


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    I don't see what this argument is about. Bill you already stated in post 5 that the Higgs boson has mass and will contribute to gravity according to GR.
  10. Jul 9, 2012 #9
    No I stated GR implies that. The argument is just against putting words in my mouth. It is one thing to say it is reasonable to expect something. It is quite another to say that in turn is fact. Just like I might say I expect Apple to release a new version of the iPod touch this year. But that does not mean one turn around as say according to Bill, Apple WILL release a new version of the iPod touch this year. e.g. I'm speculating, based loosely on the evidence at hand. But I there is no evidence that speculation is correct, and in fact I could find many arguments as to how that speculation could turn out to be wrong. I merely speculate it, because I think it is the simpliest and most obvious conclusion, which is always a good place to start when trying to understand or describe something.

  11. Jul 9, 2012 #10


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    If the Higgs boson has mass, then it contributes to gravity. End of story. Saying that we "expect" it to do so is needlessly complicating things. Of course we "expect" it to, our main theory on gravity says it will so we must. When we say "it does" it has the implied "we expect it does", as like all theories, they can never be proven correct, only incorrect.
  12. Jul 9, 2012 #11
    Please read what I write before replying. This is getting exhausting. The point of issue is not if Higgs bosoms have a gravitational effect. I point at issue is if there is an accepted theory that says Higgs bosoms curve space. And to that question I contend the answer is NO. We have no generally accepted theory of quantum gravity. If you disagree please provide a reference. Even without such a theory, most of expect that Higgs bosoms curve space, which is why I regret bring it up... But that is an expectation, not a statement grounded soundly in established theory. Push comes to shove, at the quantum level there isn't even a general agreement on the number dominions, if space is continously or tiled or stringy. In the end even a query about the flatness of space at that level may be nonsensical.
  13. Jul 9, 2012 #12

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    It's "Higgs bosons" not "Higgs bosoms". That's something else entirely.

    I agree with Drakkith. Yes, we don't have a quantum theory of gravity, but we know that whenever we have one it will be a theory of gravity. That is, it will have to explain our existing observations, and one of those observations is the universality of free fall. One can always argue "maybe things are just different", but that doesn't require a Higgs boson. Maybe someone will someday find a magic lump of gold that gravitates differently - that's not a good reason to argue that we don't know what the acceleration of gold is.

    And it's simply incorrect to say that Higgs and gravitons are indistinguishable at high enough energies. That's not even true for the Z and the photon. (What is true is that at high enough energies the w3-B description has the same predictions, and looks simpler)
  14. Jul 13, 2012 #13
    Where do you get your information?

    Of course at high enough energy Z bosons and photons are indistinguishable. Both have zero charge and a spin of 1. So in the energy realm where the Z boson mass becomes negligible, all you have is a mixed state. Really such an equivalence is as fundamental to QED as constantness of the speed of light for SR. So either this is right or my professors were way overpaid in graduate school.
  15. Jul 13, 2012 #14

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    That it's not Higgs Bosoms?

    And different couplings.

    The correct statement is what I wrote: at high enough energies the w3-B description has the same predictions (as the Z-gamma description), and looks simpler.

    I wouldn't necessarily blame the professors.
  16. Jul 14, 2012 #15
    Lets try and step back a bit. In classical electro-dynamics there is no need to ever mention a photon. The theory itself is complete as a description of electro-magnetic waves. The quantization of light as a photon is needed for particle physics, to merge E-M with quantum mechanics. One can then describe that those E-M waves are composed of (virtual) photons.

    Likewise, in GR there is no need for a graviton. The theory is complete in itself is complete by describing the bending of space and how it interacts with things moving through curved space. A graviton is only neccessary as a possible way to merge GR with quantum mechanics. If so, then like the virtual photons an real photons being the "structure" of the E-M field, the graviton would become the structure of the "space curving" field. (Sorry, I know the terminology is poor, but I studied experimental physics, not theoritical, so we did not spend much time on things like gravitons.)

    At much shorter ranges, we have the Weak force. Neglicting the W+ and W- for the time being, for the purposes of a high level discussion we can treat the same as what an E-M field would be if a photon had a rest mass. Granted the couplings are different, as pointed out above. We are just talking at an abstract level, the couplings are part of the details we don't need to get into. It is just like E-M and gravitation fields have vastly different properties, but we can still reference them at a high level with analogy.

    So we have the electoweak field. Which in the limits of classical electrodynamics still describes our electo-magnetic field as being made-up by virtual and real photons. But when we move in at very close range or extremely high energies, we find the electo-weak field is made-up of photons, Z bosons, W+ bosons and W- bosons.

    Now here is the stretch. If the Higgs boson is analogous to a Z boson. Then there should be something analogous to the electo-weak field, say the gravo-higgs field. In the realms of GR, this would just boil down to our curving of space field being made-up of virtual gravitons. However, when we moved in very closely, or very high energies we would have an gravo-higgs field made-up of gravitons, Higgs bosons, and what ever other mass coupling bosons we discover. So in that regards the Higgs would be "special" in that it would compose part of "space curving" field in these extremes.

    That is what I originally wanted to say, but it was far to much speculation for me to just come-out and say it. In the end, I'm not even that comfortable talking about gravitons, as I still have no understanding of the math describing how such a particle could be a "space curving" field. But it is from thas perspective I say it is speculation to say Higgs curve space. Lets face, in every approach of quantum gravity, it is not the classical particles that are curving space, but it is there interaction with something else like a graviton. To put a Higgs in the same classification as a graviton of directly being part of the space curving field is speculations, no if, ands, or buts.
  17. Jul 14, 2012 #16
    Damn auto-correct...

    I don't know how old you are. Perhaps the way they teach this is different now. Take any Feynman diagram with a photon. Replace that photon with a Z boson. Guess what? The it still is a possible interaction. So in those interactions the only thing that lets you know it was a photon and not a Z boson is the fact that a Z boson has a mass, so at low energy/long distances it's effect contribution neglishable. So at very high energies, the photon becomes indistiquishable from the Z boson. The reverse of course is not true. Not every Feynman diagram with Z boson can be replaced with a photon. For example you could never have a photon decay to a pair of neutrinos. So a Z boson is distiquishable from a photon, in some cases. It is the photon that loses it's identity, and just becomes a possibility not an observed fact at high energies.

    When you talk about the W3-B couplings you are really say the same thing, but is a much less intuitive level, especially for a forumn like this where you have people with mixed levels of education. You have practicing physicists (which I assume you are), and people like me who studied physics that then went on to a completely different carrier path. So you do need to try and stick to a more intuitive and relate to people at thier level. That does not mean of course you cannot references and correct us when we are just plain wrong, or as is the danger anytime something is over simplified it is over simplified to the point where something very important is missing or misleading.

    True. The student and the professors go hand and hand.
  18. Jul 14, 2012 #17


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    I see, so a photon is indistinguishable from a Z boson, but not the other way around. :uhh:

    As said before, the particles differ in their interaction, not just their masses. The photon's interaction is pure V, while the Z boson interaction is bot V and A. So they are not the same, even at high energy.

    It is not, by any stretch. There is no such thing as the 'electo-weak field' or the 'gravo-higgs field', and the Higgs boson only curves space because it happens to have energy, the same as any other particle.

    I hope so.
  19. Jul 14, 2012 #18
    Yes. Is that too complicated for you? :) Lets say I tell you I baught something for $0.05. Do you have anyway of ever knowing I paid with 5 pennies, or a nickle if you cannot observe the actual transaction, just the results? It is not like you can count the number of photons in a cash register drawer before and after, like you could with nickles and pennies. So for all intensive perposes a nickel is indistiquishable from 5 pennies when monitoring transactions. That is perfectly normal colloqueal usage of the words. On the other hand, if I show you a receipt for $0.03, you know I must have paid with pennies. So reverse it not true, pennies are distiquishable from nickles with some transactions.

    Again you are missing the point. A can be neglishable. So you have the same interactions just different probabilities. Any interaction where you think you had a photon, you could have had a Z boson. In the end, you just have to treat it as a mixed state.
  20. Jul 14, 2012 #19
    The statement that there is no electro-weak field is absurd.

    First I hope you accept there is electro-weak interactions. That terminology is so common it was in the title of one of my text books. Next I hope you realize any interaction is a force. Again the term electro-weak force is fairly common, but not as common as the first so I will provide the first link I found on Google:


    So then the only point in question is what per chance do you think is the definition of a field?

    This is from memory so my numbers could be wrong, but at 10^17m the weak force is 10,000 times weaker than EM. When you are measuring force strength vs distance you are measuring field strength. Surely if you can measure EM fields, and you can measure weak fields, in the realm where all of them are significant you have what could only be referred to as an electro-weak field.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  21. Jul 14, 2012 #20
    There are four fields responsible for electro-weak interactions. I guess you could call them electro-weak fields, just like you can call the photonic field electro-magnetic field.
  22. Jul 14, 2012 #21
    Oh excuse me, I. see I confused two different posters as the same person...
  23. Jul 14, 2012 #22
    This brings up a question of terminology for which I do not know the answer to. Is more correct to say electro-weak field or electro-weak fields? One never says electro-weak forces, just force. So in regards to force, singular seems correct. However, there are multiple fields of particles, so plural makes sense. However, the whole is not the sum of the parts, because the field contains mixed states of completely different particles, so again singular seems correct.
  24. Jul 14, 2012 #23
    F = \frac{1}{4 \pi \varepsilon_0} \, \frac{Q_1 \, Q_2}{r^2}

    The electrostatic force without charge is zero. Wouldn't that imply the photons carry charge?
  25. Jul 14, 2012 #24


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    That's Ok, you're forgiven. It's easy to confuse user names, for example docbillnet with docbill. :smile: I rarely get involved in heated discussions like this one. But you'll notice the large and increasing number of recent threads asking/suggesting/insisting the same thing: a close relationship between Higgs boson and the graviton. We need a FAQ entry on this!
    Technically so, but calling it a "force" is really oldspeak. Note that Weinberg's book is "Quantum Theory of Fields", not "Quantum Theory of Forces". :eek: Still people do occasionally talk of "the weak force", as opposed to "the strong force" (aka "the nuclear force" or "the color force") And as we now know, the weak interaction is not one "force" but two: a charged current interaction and a neutral current interaction.
    Actually three. Since W+ and W- are antiparticles, they are both excitations of the same field.
  26. Jul 14, 2012 #25
    Bill_K, very nice post. Very clear, at a level everyone can understand, and absolutely nothing I don't agree with.
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