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How can the Higgs Boson induce mass?

  1. Mar 22, 2012 #1
    How can the Higgs boson induce mass?
    How can it interact with itself? Is it the only particle able to do so, if yes, why, and if no, what other particles can interact with themselves?

    As a side thought, is Young's Double Slit Experiment evidence of particles interacting with themselves (the electron as a wave entering both slits simultaneously)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2012 #2


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    What we sometimes call "the Higgs" is really two things: a constant background field h0 and a Higgs boson: quantum excitations of that field. It's the Higgs field that is believed to be responsible for the masses of the fermions (electrons, neutrinos, quarks) along with the gauge fields W and Z. These masses could have been put into the theory by hand, but not without violating a fundamental principle, electroweak gauge invariance. What the Higgs field does is to allow these terms in a gauge invariant way.

    Other particles that interact with themselves are gluons and gravitons.
  4. Mar 22, 2012 #3
    So how is the higgs boson related to the higgs field/is it related at all?

    What do you mean by quantum excitations of the field? Surely every particle would 'excite' the field at any level since it has mass and gravity.

    Thank you for the quick answer by the way :)
  5. Mar 22, 2012 #4
    Consider photons. Photons are the quantum versions of electromagnetic waves, which are ripples in the electromagnetic field. It's possible to have a constant background electromagnetic field, for example the one created by a permanent magnet. Then if you jiggle around some charges somewhere, you will create ripples in the electromagnetic field on top of whatever constant field is already there. These ripples travel as electromagnetic waves, which are described quantum mechanically in terms of photon particles. We could say that photons are the "quantum excitations" of the electromagnetic field.

    It's the same with the Higgs. There is a Higgs field that is very much like the electromagnetic field, and in the universe there is a constant background Higgs field. If you jiggle massive particles around in the right way, you can create ripples in the Higgs field which travel as waves, and which are described quantum mechanically as particles called Higgs bosons. We say that Higgs bosons are the "quantum excitations" of the Higgs field.
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