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Higgs field trouble

  1. Feb 6, 2009 #1
    My understanding of the Higgs ocean comes from Briane Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. The book says that the Higgs field is a nonzero value field, and that if enough energy where put into it, enough to raise it to zero value, then mass would no longer exist since there would be no resistance between paricles and the Higgs field, and that all particles would travel at the speed of light.

    So, if when I heat something up, giving energy to the Higgs field, then the Higgs field should be getting closer to a zero value and inertia should be decreasing. But if I take into account relativity then by heating the object up I am giving it energy, so its mass is increasing, therefore there should be more inertia when something is heated up. And at the temperature of electroweak unification, 1015degrees, then the particles shouldn't be zooming around at the speed of light, they should be heavily weighed down by there total mass.

    Can anyone please clear this up to me?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2009 #2


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    No the heater the environment - the faster particles move.

    Consider the Maxwell velocitiy distribution of particles, the more heat, the higher the mean value of kinetic energy -> the higher mean veolcity. The most common one are for non - relativistic kinematics, but it is very easy to derive it also for relativistic speeds, the result is different.

    You are not giving particles mass, the 'increase of mass' is an effect of the particle moving faster. [tex] m = m_0/(\sqrt{1-(v/c)^2} ) [/tex]
  4. Feb 7, 2009 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Glenn, I don't think he's talking about that. I think he's talking about the electroweak phase transition and why the Higgs field has a vev. The problem is that Greene's analogy is already stretched to the breaking point, and I am not sure how one can answer beyond that.
  5. Feb 7, 2009 #4


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    Well I wasn't 100% sure what he asked about, so I cleared up at least one thing for him I hope. Let's see what he answer.
  6. Feb 7, 2009 #5
    Well, you did help somewhat, but my main problem is that I don't understand why heating an area of space up causes inertia to decrease. I think I understand Greene, he said that sometime after the big bang the temperatures where hot enough to raise the Higgs field to a zero value, so that particles with mass, like the W and Z bosons, became massless becuase they were faced with no resistance to accelerations posed by the Higgs field.

    But at such high temperatures, say right between nonzero value and zero value for the Higgs field, shouldn't those particles have enough energy that there mass has a noticeable increase using m=E/c2, so there inertia should increase with temperature, not decrease.

    According to Briane Greene, when energy is added to our nonzero Higgs field, it actually gets closer to a zero value. So as the field gets weaker shouldn't the particles that interact with the Higgs field start losing mass becuase they are being faced with less resistance? But by adding energy I increase mass and inertia, right?
  7. Feb 7, 2009 #6


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    What you can think of (this is what comes into my mind).

    The particles will loose their rest mass due to weaker interaction with higgsfield (higgsfield becomes weaker) thus they will be more photon-like. And photons do not have any inertia.

    And the equation m=E/c^2 tells you that their relative mass becomes higher, not their real mass. So in total, the effect for the W and Z would be that they became massless when higgs is zero, thus behaving as photon-like particles.
  8. Feb 7, 2009 #7
    Oh, I didn't even think about treating the particles relativistic mass and its rest mass differently, it went right over my head.

    Thx for the help Glenn:smile:
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