Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Higgs field idea and gravity

  1. Sep 18, 2012 #1
    I'm just throwing out an idea, which is probably wrong since I don't have a physics degree, but I'm curious anyways. I'd appreciate anyone giving feedback. For starters, I've read that the higgs mechanism, which gives all particles mass, is a paradigm of the meissner effect for superconductors. In super conductors, when T < tc, magnetic flux is expelled from the superconductor, and the field lines are consequentially "warped" around the superconductor, which allows electrons to travel on the field lines without resistance. Similarly with the higgs field, the field is warped around a particle that interacts with the higgs field. Because the higgs field is an intrinsic property of spacetime, one could say that mass warps spacetime (AKA gravity), due to the similar meissner effect, which warped magnetic flux lines. After all, the higgs mechanism has to be related to gravity, since gravity is proportional to mass.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    serp777, Nope, this is a point frequently misunderstood. People see the word "mass" and think, "Aha, that means gravity!" Not so, for several reasons.

    In the first place, while the Higgs mechanism does govern the rest mass of most elementary particles: electrons, quarks, etc., the field is not by itself responsible for the mass, it only "permits" them to have mass. Each of these particles couples to the Higgs field, and that's the mass term, but the reason for the coupling is not understood, and what determines the strength of the coupling is not understood either. So the discovery of the Higgs does not solve the mass problem.

    Secondly, it is quite possible to have rest mass which does not arise from the Higgs field. No particle like this has been seen, but several have been hypothesized. For example, neutrinos may have Majorana mass, which would have to come from some other source.

    Thirdly, gravity does not couple to rest mass. It couples to energy, and there are many types of energy: kinetic energy, potential energy, etc. As is often pointed out, only a fraction of the mass of a proton is due to the rest mass of the quarks. Most of it represents the kinetic and potential energy of the quarks and gluons contained inside.

    So "Higgs" and "gravity" are not the same!
  4. Sep 20, 2012 #3
    @Bill_K are you saying that the intertial mass of a proton is only a fraction of its gravitational mass? I understood that, although there was no explanation yet, intertial mass did seemt to correspond with gravitational mass.
  5. Sep 20, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    No, the principle of equivalence guarantees that inertial mass and gravitational mass are equal.

    I'm saying that the quark rest mass (which the Higgs field facilitates) is only a small fraction of the total mass of the proton. Most of the proton's mass comes instead from quantum chromodynamic binding energy (which is unrelated to the Higgs).

    Quoting Wikipedia on this: "A proton has a mass of approximately 938 MeV/c2, of which the rest mass of its three valence quarks only contributes about 11 MeV/c2".
  6. Sep 20, 2012 #5
    Something always bugged me... The Higgs boson, having mass (hence energy asociated with it) does couple to gravity right?I mean, it does bend the space time around it right?If so, since there is an Higgs field everywhere, how does this contributes to the curvature of the whole spacetime?

    Thank you
  7. Sep 20, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The Higgs boson and Higgs field are quite different things. The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field, apparently with a mass of about 125 GeV. It has a very short lifetime, maybe 10-23 sec. The gravitational field it produces is minuscule.

    The Higgs field is uniform throughout space, has no mass or energy associated with it, and produces no gravitational field.
  8. Sep 20, 2012 #7
    Oh I see. Today I learned something usefull :smile:

    Thank you
  9. Sep 23, 2012 #8
    Bill_K Thanks for responding, but I would like some more clarification. You say the higgs field is uniform throughout space. That cannot be true, since, for example, an atom causes the higgs field to move around it like the meissner effect. Since the field does not travel through the atom, it must be unevenly displaced around the atom. An analogy would be a rock displacing the water around it, creating different pressure densities. The higgs field does not exist inside an atom. Next, according to wikipedia

    "More precisely, the Higgs mechanism endows gauge bosons in a gauge theory with mass"


    "The Standard Model of particle physics recognizes three kinds of gauge bosons: Photons, which carry the electromagnetic interaction; W and Z bosons, which carry the weak interaction; and gluons, which carry the strong interaction.[3]"

    Your assertion that quantum chromodynamics magically generates mass for quarks is wrong, unless wikipedia is wrong. So, all gauge bosons are affected by the higgs mechanism, and mass is not created by qcd interactions. Also, you say that gravity does not couple to rest mass, which seems false. Two masses, at first, not moving relative to each other (meaning they are at rest), do indeed start moving towards each other, so at the first instant of rest, gravity would have to couple to rest mass in order to cause initial acceleration. Next, gravity doesn't always couple to potential energy. A mass further away from another mass experiences less gravity even though the two objects have higher potential energy.

    To explain why the higgs could add additional mass for quarks inside the atom, even though the higgs field is moving around the atom, its the same reason why quark confinement occurs. Color charged particles in a gluon field could displace the higgs field, and create something that looks like the meissner effect, in effect generating mass. In other words, the glounic field probably has some interaction with the higgs field. However, because the higgs field does not travel through the atom, this means that bosons inside the atom can behave as massless, while also contributing to the mass of the atom.

    The reason why people associate the higgs field with gravity, is because gravity is intertwined with mass. How is it unreasonable to assume that the same effect that generates mass is also responsible for gravity, since mathematically gravity depends on mass?
  10. Sep 23, 2012 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    serp777, Do you really want an explanation? It sound like you don't. You have your own theory which explains everything.
  11. Sep 23, 2012 #10
    Wow, that was very passive aggressive; my intention wasn't to make you upset, or somehow suggest that I knew more. I originally started this thread to propose a theory, which was consistent with several things I read on Wikipedia, and that I subsequently quoted. I admitted in the beginning it was probably wrong, but some of your statements seem to contradict Wikipedia. It doesn't explain everything, but only where gravity is generated. My last paragraph is complete conjecture, so please tell me why I'm wrong. The reason why I said your assertion about QCD was wrong is because of what I read about the higgs mechanism and quoted earlier. Doesn't the assumption that gravity couples to binding energy rely on a theory of quantum gravity? Finally you said that "The Higgs field is uniform throughout space, has no mass or energy associated with it", but then how can it have an excitation to create a higgs boson, if it has no energy associated with it? My second to last paragraph was complete conjecture.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  12. Sep 23, 2012 #11
    How do you excite something that has no mass or energy.
  13. Sep 24, 2012 #12
    hmm. "wikipedia says.." doesn't sound like a very sound basis for assertions!

    Although there might not be explicit explanations for how some particles get their inertia and only very provisional ideas about how gravity is linked, I think that the odds are now in favour of something like the Higgs field (or extension(s) of) that do(es) the job. So I think serp's idea in some form (i.e. +maths) is likely to be quite near the mark.

    Bii_K when you say that the Higgs field is uniform do you not mean that it is uniform wrt to space and time, however that has been locally distorted by energy? I would have thought that there would be inconsistent frame of reference issues otherwise.
  14. Sep 24, 2012 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Please re-read the PF Rules that you had agreed to. Pay particular attention to our policy on such a theory.

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Higgs field idea and gravity
  1. Higgs Field (Replies: 19)

  2. The higgs field? (Replies: 20)

  3. Higgs Field (Replies: 12)