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Question regarding Higgs boson

  1. Oct 13, 2011 #1
    Hi to all,
    I am an electrical engineer so my knowledge about "heavy" physics is somewhat limited.
    I like reading about ( only superficially ) this "heavy" physics so I am puzzled about something and I need your help.

    Is Higgs boson strongly related with Higgs mechanism?

    We all know that Nobels are given for experimentally confirmed breakthroughs. If Higgs boson is not found what does that mean for Nobel prize in physics 1979, 1999, 2008.

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2011 #2
    Indeed the Higgs boson is strongly related to the Higgs mechanism. It is a consequence of it you might say. The way it works is that you have an ordinary multi-component Higgs field at high energies (like in the early universe), meaning there were effectively several kinds of Higgs bosons flying around. As the universe cooled, the field cooled also and became a kind of constant background, no longer jiggling with Higgs bosons. This field became somewhat "attached" to the other particles, making them heavy (massive). However, if you kick the field hard enough (by doing some really high energy particle collisions) then you can make it wiggle enough that higgs bosons once again pop out of it, only they will be a kind of low energy version of the ones that existed in the early universe. And there will be just one kind. According to the Standard Model. And they will disappear back into the background field very shortly thereafter.

    As for Nobel prizes, well I didn't look up those prizes but I assume they are for things like the electroweak model. Those things were still great breakthroughs in fundamental physics so they are no less deserving of a Nobel prize just because a piece of them turns out to not be quite right.
     
  4. Oct 13, 2011 #3
  5. Oct 13, 2011 #4

    tom.stoer

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    In 1979 Glashow, Salam and Weinberg were awarded the Nobel Prize especially for their construction of the electro-weak interaction which unifies a lot of different and partially new phenomena in a single framework (a renormalizable theory instead of Fermi theory, charged and neutral currents related to W- and Z-bosons, exact preduction of their masses! interaction of electrons, neutrinos and quarks, ...). The award in 1979 was a bit risky as not only the Higgs boson but in addition the W-and the Z-bosons had not been identified in experiments at that time (the W and the Z where found in the early eightees at CERN; this was another Nobel prize to Rubbia and van der Meer). w/o a Higgs everything else of the electro-weak theory (especially the W and the Z) would remain valid, at least as an effective theory.

    In 1999 't Hooft and Veltman were awarded the Nobel Prize for results on the structure of non-abelian quantum field theories, especially for renormalization (and I guess absence of anomalies). This is relevant especially for electroweak interactions, but not less for QCD! which "does not need the Higgs" In addition they are theoretical or mathematical physicists and therefore their insights would not vanish with the disproof of the Higgs boson.

    Regarding the prize in 2008 (Nambu, Kobayashi and Maskawa) similar reasons apply. There is spontaneous symmetry breaking, there is a state-mixing and CP-violation in the electroweak sector, ...; all these results remain valid (w/o or w/ slight modifications) even w/o a Higgs. Why the committee failed to reward Cabibbo is still unclear to me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  6. Oct 14, 2011 #5

    Bill_K

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    Cabibbo arguably deserves some of the credit, but the rules of the Nobel Prize stipulate a maximum of three people. A similar dilemma will arise if and when the Higgs boson is discovered. People in line for the award: Higgs, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble.
     
  7. Oct 14, 2011 #6

    tom.stoer

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    But then they should have left out Nambu instead of Cabibbo.
     
  8. Oct 14, 2011 #7

    Bill_K

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    Really? I'd have to say that with all his achievements, Nambu was ten times more deserving of a Nobel Prize than the other two. And by that time he had already been passed over twice for the award: once in 2003 for superconductivity, and once in 2004 for quantum chromodynamics. Kobayashi and Maskawa are known for the CKM matrix and little else.
     
  9. Oct 14, 2011 #8

    DrDu

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    Not to forget Anderson. After all, the mechanism was discovered by him in 1958 before it got transfered to HEP by the other ones in the middle of the 1960s.
     
  10. Oct 14, 2011 #9

    tom.stoer

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    Agreed - so Nambu and nobody else would have been OK
     
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