# Is the higgs boson the mediator of the higgs field?

ChrisVer
Gold Member
I agree, that would be the best way to understand it. I would appreciate any recommendations for any textbooks on particle physics if anyone knows of any. Thanks!

Any book that deals with Standard Model in advanced (graduate) level, will surely have what you ask. This paper
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1312.5672v1.pdf
also was the last one I read recently, and I find it nice.
But to be honest, I have never found a textbook that does the whole calculations, the most you need to do by your own...

Gold Member
Any book that deals with Standard Model in advanced (graduate) level, will surely have what you ask. This paper
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1312.5672v1.pdf
also was the last one I read recently, and I find it nice.
But to be honest, I have never found a textbook that does the whole calculations, the most you need to do by your own...

Thanks for that! I'll check it out.

I feel like you are too!

Then what is the truth (in your opinion)?

Simon Bridge
Homework Helper
StandardsGuy said:
Bil_K said:
Then what is the truth (in your opinion)?
Knowing falsehood does not imply knowing the truth.
(... and physical reality is not usually a matter of opinion.)

However - we can talk about how an article misrepresents a physical model from knowledge of that model.
I'll have a go - Bill K will, probably, fill in the bits I miss. I suspect the objections go something like this:

The quote in question is from "Livescience" - a pop-science news-site not known for being scientifically accurate. To be fair on the authors, they are trying to get some subtle points of field theory across to a target audience that struggles with high-school maths. This is not easy, we can't really expect them to get everything just right.

I'll break the quote up into individual points:

"In physics, when particles interact with fields, the interaction must be mediated by a particle.

... or, indeed, when they interact with each other, or, at all.
The statement is stronger than I'd make it but it is probably fair.

Interactions with the electromagnetic (EM) field, for example, are mediated by photons, or particles of light.

It is the interaction that is "mediated" by the virtual particle, not the field.

When a negatively charged electron is pulled by the EM field toward a positively charged proton, the electron experiences the EM field by absorbing and emitting a constant stream of "virtual photons",
The picture you get here is that electrons are firing and getting hit by a constant stream of photons - this is not correct.

Compare with:
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Quantum/virtual_particles.html
... which gives you a better idea how virtual particles mediate forces.

photons that momentarily pop in and out of existence just for the purpose of mediating the particle-field interaction.

That's quite iffy - how do these virtual photons know to "pop" into existence at just the right moment to mediate the field? (Covered in previous link.)

Furthermore, when the EM field is "excited," meaning its energy is flared up in a certain spot, that flare-up is, itself, a photon, a real one in that case.

This is so confused it is hard to know where to start: see the following -
http://profmattstrassler.com/articl...ysics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/

... and all this is before you get close to thinking about Higgs.

But like I said before, the authors are trying to explain in a single chatty sentence something that actually requires many paragraphs - and, even then, it's incomplete. Of course they got it wrong!
They got it cringe-worthily wrong.
How could they not?

Thanks. I agree that we can't expect the authors to get everything exactly right. Somebody had to tell them those things. Oversimplification is highly probable, but I think they did an amazingly good job. In your first link, the authors admitted that they used gross oversimplification. In the second one they said virtual particle'' is a problematic term. I found the first one a little ad-hoc. They seemed to have a "two-worlds" theory with a "position-space universe" and a "momentum-space universe." Still, I appreciate the links. I was, however, more interested in the Higgs mechanism.

Simon Bridge
Homework Helper
Oversimplification is highly probable, but I think they did an amazingly good job.
As a basis for learning more about the standard model and the Higgs mechanism (the context in which is was quoted) - not really. As something to give a lay reader a sense of exciting things happening - better. The second is what it was written for, after all.

Both links are oversimplified - I can give you a link to the actual, unsimplified, stuff if you like: how's your maths?

Note: If those are "gross simplifications" - where does that leave the quoted passage, that was the context, which is even more oversimplified still?

In the second one they said virtual particle'' is a problematic term.
... and they explained why it is problematic and addressed the problem in a way that illustrated why the associated part of the LiveScience article was "baloney"... in an accessible way.

I found the first one a little ad-hoc. They seemed to have a "two-worlds" theory with a "position-space universe" and a "momentum-space universe."
The position and momentum spaces are fourier transforms of each other - they describe the same World.

Still, I appreciate the links. I was, however, more interested in the Higgs mechanism.
Well, when you asked the question, you wrote that you were interested in the truth by the opinion of Bill_K. I hoped that I'd interpreted your intention correctly... you asked about a passage Bill_K had criticized which was quoted from a LiveScience article linked to earlier.

The quoted passage made no reference to the Higgs mechanism.
phy-infinite quoted it.

Please understand: In order to get a good idea about the Higgs mechanism, the interested student really needs a better picture of the standard model than the LiveScience article gives you.

Perhaps something like:
Bernstein J. Spontaneous symmetry breaking, gauge theories, the Higgs mechanism and all that (1974) Rev Mod Phys.

Maybe:
Organtini G. Unveiling the Higgs mechanism to students Eur. J. Phys. 33 (2012) 1397-1406

There are no end of lecture summaries:
i.e. http://www.physics.buffalo.edu/pasi/HiggsbosonLecture1.pdf

Basically you'll need to pick one that is suitable to your education.
Enjoy.