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

Mass, Gravity and the Higgs Mechanism

  1. Jul 9, 2012 #1
    I am led to believe that while the Higgs Mechanism is now almost certainly the explanation for mass, it gives no insight whatsoever into gravity.

    I really really hope that I am incorrect.

    There's got to be some speculation out there. What do the boson and the field have to do with gravity? Nothing? Or is there almost certainly a relationship, unclear as it may be?

    What can I read (other than your fascinating replies)? Where can I go for some more info?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2012 #2

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The Higgs mechanism is the explanation for the masses of the fundamental leptons, quarks, and W+, W-, and Z bosons. However most mass in the universe has nothing to do with the Higgs mechanism. The overwhelming majority of the mass of the proton comes from the energy of the gluon field holding it together.

    All of this has nothing to do with gravity.
  4. Jul 9, 2012 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    The Higgs doesn't explain why energy (more precisely stress-energy) creates spacetime curvature, so yes, I would agree it doesn't give any insight into gravity.
  5. Jul 9, 2012 #4
    Bummer. That's a more complete statement than I was previously aware of. But it was in line with my understanding.
  6. Jul 9, 2012 #5
    When you say "all of this" do you also mean that there is no known causative link between the mass produced by the gluon field and gravity?

    I find this deeply disappointing. It bugs me. I'm not sure why.
  7. Jul 9, 2012 #6
    Higgs Mechanism is a mechanism of spontaneous breaking of the symmetry SU(2)xUy(1).

    It naturally gives you massive Ws,Zs and massless photon, and so the electroweak theory.
    So what does it have to do with gravity?
  8. Jul 9, 2012 #7
    My understanding is that absent the Higgs Mechanism, there is no mass. And that absent mass, there is no gravity.

    Therefore, I have difficulty understanding how the one has nothing to do with the other. Maybe I have a much deeper misunderstanding.
  9. Jul 9, 2012 #8
    in fact without higgs mechanism we wouldn't comprehend the mass of Z and W bosons... your problem was that all your bosonic fields are massless, but weak interactions appeared to have massive bosons.
    So you say that fundamentally you have one symmetry that is breaking, and via that breaking you get massive and massless bosons.

    So it's not how you get mass in general, but why weak interaction mediators have mass, and so why weak interactions are weak...
  10. Jul 9, 2012 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    The source of gravity isn't mass, it's stress-energy. Mass is only one form of stress-energy; you can have stress-energy present without mass.
  11. Jul 9, 2012 #10

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    To add to what Peter Donis has said: Even massless particles act as a source for gravity! For example, the Reissner-Nordstrom solution has non-vanishing Einstein tensor because of the electric field (i.e., the collective excitations of virtual photons) that permeates all spacetime.

    It might make more sense to say the Higgs particle is what makes certain other particles travel slower than the speed of light.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Mass, Gravity and the Higgs Mechanism
  1. Higgs Mechanism (Replies: 13)

  2. Higgs mechanism(?) (Replies: 0)