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

The Higgs Field and Energy

  1. Oct 28, 2015 #1

    anorlunda

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In a recent thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/is-energy-convertible-to-matter.692986/#post-5262460

    PF mentor Dalespam said, "Energy is a property, not a "thing"

    Then Dalespam said, "You can convert things with energy (e.g. a pair of photons) into other things with energy (e.g. an electron and positron). Energy doesn't exist by itself, so you cannot simply convert energy (without an accompanying thing) into matter.

    This is important because any of the things that have energy also have other properties, such as spin, or momentum, or charge, etc."


    That struck me as very profound, because it is very tempting to think of energy as something that does exist by itself. I had never heard an explicit statement so direct as Dalespam's, "Energy is a property, not a "thing" I have been mulling on that ever since. Thank you Dalespam for the stimulation.

    But yesterday, I thought of the Higgs Field with it's mexican hat property of having nonzero energy at zero field strength.

    Wikipedia says ...the Higgs field[6][7]—a fundamental field of crucial importance to particle physics theory,[7] first suspected to exist in the 1960s, that unlike other known fields such as theelectromagnetic field, takes a non-zero constant value almost everywhere. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson

    If the Higgs field exists everywhere, then it is not a property of the "things" in the region, where "things: can be defined as particles including photons. The things can't be Higgs Bosons because (according to that sme Wikipedia article) Higgs Bosons are produced only when the Higgs field is excited, thus implying that an unexcited Higgs Field exists with no Higgs Bosons.

    The same mexican hat property is said to apply to the hypothesized inflaton field (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflaton). I think it is correct to say that the narrative of inflation theory is that the existence of energy precedes the existence of photons and particles.

    I'm sorry to have to try to pose a scientific question dependent on the definition of "thing." My question:

    Are the the Higgs Field and the inflaton fields exceptions to the statement, "Energy doesn't exist by itself"?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2015 #2

    Orodruin

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You seem to be confusing the Higgs vev with the energy stored in the Higgs field. Also, there is nothing strange about energy being stored in fields rather than particles. We do this all the time in classical electrodynamics.
     
  4. Oct 28, 2015 #3

    anorlunda

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes fields have energy, but other fields, electromagnetic, magnetic, Coulomb, gravity, temperature, wind, etc. owe their existence to particles (including photons). Therefore, we could say that without the particles, those fields would not exist. In contrast, the Higgs field and the Inflaton, exist independent of particles.

    I didn't want to phrase my question this way, but in a universe with no particles and no photons, could there be energy?
     
  5. Oct 28, 2015 #4

    Orodruin

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I would phrase it in a different way, the particles owe their existence to the quantisation of the fields. Energy being inherent in the fields predates field quantisation and a classical field does not contain a fixed number of particles, it is a coherent state.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: The Higgs Field and Energy
  1. Higgs Field (Replies: 10)

Loading...