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Higgs weigh more than protons

  1. Jul 4, 2012 #1

    First time I've posted on this website.

    I keep hearing & reading news stories that protons are made of sub-atomic particles, one of which is the Higgs-Boson. The story continue with how many times the Higgs weighs more than a proton.

    I don't get that last bit.

    How can the whole weigh less than a part?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2012 #2
    Bosons only mediate the forces they don't make up matter.
    Protons are suppose to be made up of quarks, which have mass, but 95% of the mass of a proton is energy stored by via the strong force and EM force.
  4. Jul 4, 2012 #3


  5. Jul 4, 2012 #4
    If the Higgs is the carrier boson of the Higgs field then I've always wondered why it has mass, because the other gauge bosons don't interact through the force they mediate, the photon has 0 electromagnetic charge, the gluon has no color charge and the hypothetical graviton has no mass, I don't know enough about weak isospin/hypercharge to comment about the W and Z bosons (never understood anything about the weak force). But this confuses me
  6. Jul 4, 2012 #5
    1) Gauge bosons are the carriers of a force; and they are excited states of a field. It isn't meaningful to say that something is the "carrier of a field."

    2) The Higgs is not a gauge boson. Gauge boson are necessarily spin-1 (or, if you include the graviton spin-2). To be a gauge boson it is necessary that at least one degree of freedom in the mathematical description actually be physically redundant. For spin-1 this isn't a problem. A spin-1 field has 4 components - 1 in each direction of spacetime - so, having one fewer be physically meaningful still leaves physical degrees of freedom. But, the Higgs is spin-0. This means it has 1 and only 1 component. So, there can't be a gauge-type redundancy.

    3) Gauge bosons can, in fact, feel the forces they mediate. Gluons do carry color charge (in fact each gluon carries both a color charge and a color anti-charge), and the W triplet (in the unbroken phase of the electroweak force) carry weak isospin.

    4) In quantum field theory, in general, it is not necessary that everything be fundamentally massless. It is only necessary that gauge bosons be massless and that fermion masses not violate any symmetries. The problem is that fermion mass terms require chiral symmetry and the isospin part of the weak force doesn't obey it. Because of this, fundamental masses for the fermions would actually break the symmetry of the weak force in a way that would make the theory inconsistent. The point here is that it's kind of a fluke that everything in the standard model has to get mass in a dynamical way.

    This fluke, however, makes it seem odd that the Higgs field actually does have a fundamental mass parameter, when it really shouldn't be. The Higgs mass is really just a function of that mass parameter combined with the effects of the Higgs' interactions with itself.
  7. Jul 5, 2012 #6
    What determines this mass parameter then?
  8. Jul 5, 2012 #7
  9. Jul 6, 2012 #8
    This is not actually true of the Higgs itself, though. The Higgs, alone among standard model particles, actually has a mass parameter that is (so far as the standard model goes) a fundamental parameter. It's there in the theory to start with. It might come about from some underlying physics that we don't know about yet; but, from the point of view of standard model physics it's just a fundamental parameter. The mass of the physical Higgs is a function both of this parameter and of the strength of the Higgs' coupling to itself.
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