The Higgs and virtual particles

In summary, the conversation discusses the Higgs boson and its production in proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The speaker explains that protons are not just made up of three quarks, but also contain virtual particles such as quarks and gluons. These virtual particles are important in the production of Higgs bosons. The use of the term "non-perturbative objects" refers to the fact that protons are real particles, unlike virtual particles which only exist in perturbation theory. The speaker clarifies that the description given is not meant to imply that virtual particles are more than just a calculation artifact, but rather they are used to explain the Higgs to a general audience using analogies.
  • #1
andrew s 1905
238
95
I have been reading the Quantum Diaries here http://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/03/25/an-idiosyncratic-introduction-to-the-higgs/ and in discussing the Higgs and the LHC experiment he says

"The general problem is this: at the LHC, we’re smashing protons into one another. The protons are each made up of a goop of quarks, antiquarks, and gluons. This is important: the protons are more than just three quarks! As we mentioned before, protons are terribly non-perturbative objects. Virtual (anti-)quarks and gluons are being produced and reabsorbed all over the place. It turns out that the main processes that produce Higgs bosons from proton collisions comes from the interaction of these virtual particles!"

Now if I understand "non-perturbative objects" correctly then he seems to be implying that the virtual particles are more than just a calculation artifact.Is this just another case of layman simplification and if so could you explain the correct interpritation?

Thanks Andrew
 
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  • #2
Protons are real particles, hence (like everything real) nonperturbative objects, unlike virtual particles , which only have meaning in perturbation theory. A (virtual) process is short shrift for a diagram or a family of related diagrams, hence involves virtual particles. The Higgs production rates computed in remormalized perturbation theory are for real processes happening in time, where virtual particles cannot exist for lack of a state.

The page you linked to starts off saying ''to explain the Higgs to a general audience using analogies'' so one would expect the usual fairy tales. But in fact the description given is sound and doesn't attempt to interpret these virtual processes as happening in time. The ''being produced and reabsorbed all over the place'' is meant to be in the diagrams of the family, not in real life. In particular, in the present context he does not imply that the virtual particles are more than just a calculation artifact!
 
  • #3
Thanks I completely misunderstood term nonperturbative objects. I see now it means they are real rather than from perturbations processes i.e."virtual". Thanks for taking the time to explain so fully.
Regards Andrew
 

1. What is the Higgs boson and why is it important?

The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that is believed to give mass to other particles. Its existence was proposed in the 1960s as part of the Standard Model of particle physics. Its discovery in 2012 was significant because it confirmed the validity of the Standard Model and helped explain how particles acquire mass.

2. What is the significance of virtual particles in the study of the Higgs boson?

Virtual particles are particles that exist only for a very short period of time and cannot be directly observed. In the study of the Higgs boson, these virtual particles play a crucial role in the mathematical equations used to describe the interactions between particles. They are also involved in the mechanism by which the Higgs boson gives mass to other particles.

3. How are virtual particles related to the concept of quantum mechanics?

The existence of virtual particles is a consequence of quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of particles at the subatomic level. In quantum mechanics, particles can behave like waves and can spontaneously appear and disappear, giving rise to virtual particles. The study of virtual particles is important in understanding the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics.

4. Can virtual particles be observed or measured?

No, virtual particles cannot be observed or measured directly. They are a mathematical concept used to describe the behavior of particles at the subatomic level. However, their effects can be observed indirectly through their interactions with other particles.

5. How does the Higgs boson interact with other particles through virtual particles?

The Higgs boson interacts with other particles through the Higgs field, a field that permeates the entire universe. As particles move through this field, they interact with virtual Higgs bosons, which in turn give them mass. This interaction with virtual particles is what gives the Higgs boson its important role in the Standard Model.

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